Feeling inspired by your friends on social media who always post pictures from their latest marathon, mud run or cool new gym?
If you think it looks like fun, you’re probably right – and you’re not alone. Unique ways to get in shape are growing faster than ever, from running through an obstacle course in the mud to “insanity” workouts and adult sports leagues. For many parents of young kids, these trendy workouts can seem like the perfect way get some physical activity in the summer, make new friends and snag a little time away from the stress of daily life.
“For people to do something sustainably, it has to be entertaining,” says Dr. Nicholas Moore, M.D., a primary care physician and sports medicine specialist with DMC Medical Group, who sees patients in West Bloomfield. “Finding something that you really like makes it a lot easier to go and do it.”
But trendy programs can also be problematic, especially when the people participating aren’t ready for the intensity the class or event requires.
“The fad part is the downfall, too, because you’ll have these people who should not be doing X, Y or Z and kind of going beyond their limitations,” he explains.
So what should you do if you want to safely try something new like a CrossFit class, 5K or even roller derby? Take it slow, he says, and talk to your doctor first. As a physician who provides coverage for two local high schools, a roller derby team, the Detroit Red Wings and other athletes, Nicholas Moore, M.D. sees on a regular basis why these recommendations are so important.
“Kids have to get this sports evaluation and checkup each year, but adults in the community going to run a Tough Mudder or playing in their soccer league don’t have to,” he points out. “It’s good to get out and be active and there are tons of opportunities to do something new. But if you have previous injuries or you’re vastly, dramatically changing the intensity of your exercise, then you need to get checked out first.”
If you don’t, there’s a lot that could go wrong. Potential problems range from musculoskeletal injuries to blood sugar problems, exacerbating your asthma or even cardiac arrest.
“People should talk with their physician before starting an exercise regimen. You shouldn’t just go out and run 10 miles,” Nicholas Moore, M.D., explains. “We have some set things we go through with the person before they start that. Maybe they need an EKG or a stress test or something else.”
Don’t let fear hold you back, though. Once you’ve cleared it with your doctor, getting involved in a physical activity you think you’ll enjoy is a great thing for your health.
“Many of these things are not super competitive; people go and they run at the pace of their group. It’s more of a team-building thing than it is a race,” he says of local runs and obstacle courses offered around southeast Michigan. “The Tough Mudder motto is, ‘When was the last time you did something for the first time?’ It’s people pushing themselves and doing something new.”
As you get started, be sure to ease into your new workout routine.
“You just have to be smart any time you’re beginning an exercise program doing something new,” he advises. “Know your limitations, progress slowly and seek guidance or advice depending on what it is.”
Some of the most common injuries, he’s noticed, are when adults go from no activity at all to suddenly doing something like CrossFit, a high-intensity fitness program.
“Many people get injured doing it,” Nicholas Moore, M.D., says. “If you go from never having done that activity to suddenly trying to do a crazy Olympic lift, somebody is going to get hurt. If your coach has evaluated you, you should start very slow with those things.”
The highest risk of injury is when you first start a new fitness program, so remember to take it slow and be aware of any symptoms that emerge. Warning signs of a problem include pain or swelling, instability, headache, dizziness or nausea.
“In general, people are realizing we need to be fit and be active,” he adds. “There is a big push in medicine for it, and people are talking about it more and more.”
Just make sure it’s safe, fun and sustainable. “Anyone can do a crazy diet or workout, but you want to have something sustainable over your lifetime.”
For more information or to make an appointment with a DMC Medical Group physician, visit DMCMedicalGroup.com.