Spring brings rebirth — the smell of flowers blooming and freshly cut grass on your jogs, a reemergence of outdoor workouts after winter hibernation and a general feeling of new beginnings. Piggyback on these springtime effects and use this hopeful, transformational season as an opportunity for a workout refresh.
According to Chinese medicine, we should live in harmony with the seasons. In winter, life rests and retreats, but in spring, the opposite occurs. Our bodies awaken and life around us sprouts, which makes this an ideal time to set spring resolutions rather than winter ones.
“The best time to make a resolution is actually in the spring,” says Janis Isaman, owner of Calgary-based My Body Couture. “Longer days, warmer climate and more light means our moods are naturally lifted, the discomforts of winter conditions have passed and it’s easier and more motivating to be active outdoors.”
Head to the forest, countryside or local parks and gardens. With spring, “you have the opportunity to get out of the gym and its stale, circulating air and bright lights and embrace a refreshing and natural environment,” says Monica Lam-Feist, ACE certified personal trainer.
And going green offers more than a gym environment reprieve. “Green exercise can improve mental well-being and markers of physiological health,” according to a study published in Extreme Physiology & Medicine. The researchers also suggest that green exercise can play a role in exercise program adherence rates, disease prevention and social interactions.
“This is something many of the long-distance triathletes I work with have done,” says Menachem Brodie, USA Cycling certified coach and NSCA certified strength and conditioning specialist. “They don’t sign up for a local or regional race, they sign up for a race somewhere they really want to go, thus kicking motivation into super high gear and reigniting the fire.”
Brodie recommends arriving 2–3 days before the event to rest and perform your best on race day. You should then plan to take the day after the event to explore the city and try the local cuisine.
To ensure you show up ready to compete, Julie Lohre, IFBB Fitness Pro, certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist, says to break down this goal into manageable steps, or mini-goals. “Assign one of those mini-goals for yourself every 1–2 weeks and make a chart with those goals. As you accomplish each of those mini-goals, put a big check mark on your chart and treat yourself to a healthy reward.”
In addition, write out your schedule before the week. “Determine when you have time to work out and write it down in your schedule,” says Alex Tauberg, DC, certified strength and conditioning specialist. “This makes it more likely that you actually get your workout in. You are committed to the workout for the whole week.”
The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness published a study of the effect of music-movement synchrony on exercise oxygen consumption. The researchers found “exercise is more efficient when performed synchronously with music than when musical tempo is slightly slower than the rate of cyclical movement.” Based on these results, you should look to fill up your playlist with music offering fast beats to push yourself to a PR.
You can find a list of running, cycling and multisport clubs at runningintheusa.com, legacy.usacycling.org and meetup.com.
Once you meet like-minded athletes, “arrange a schedule to work out together and hold each other accountable,” says Chiong Winston, FISAF certified fitness leader and personal trainer.