Each January with New Years resolutions in tow, people flock to the gyms, ice and sport courts in Sherwood Park to start getting into shape or living a more active lifestyle. For many this means a sharp increase in activity levels that their bodies may not be quite ready for.  Following a few simple tips this month can help you prevent injury, and keep you on the road to fitness success.

  1. Track Your Training Load. Before you can plan how much training is a good idea, you need know how to measure your training load. Training load is the combination of how much work you do and how you feel doing it.  A training journal is a good place to record your exercise program and training loads.  Begin by recording how many minutes you exercise, multiplied by how tired you feel on a scale of 1-10.

For example, if this week you run on the treadmill for 30 minutes, at a 3/10 intensity level your training load would be 90.

Training load: 30 min x 3/10 = 90

  1. Start Slow. This is the best advice you can get when starting a new exercise regime. Getting into better shape isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Start out at an intensity that you feel comfortable with and doesn’t push yourself too hard, too fast. You should work at this “Exercise Baseline” for the first 4-6 weeks before looking to increase your activity level again.
  1. Increase activity by 10-15%/week. Once you are ready to progress from your Exercise Baseline (after the first 4-6 weeks), do so gradually.  For example, if you have been walking at a 2/10 on the “tiredness scale” for 60 minutes, 3 times per week, your training load is 360/week.  When you’re ready to increase your intensity, try walking at a 3/10 for 45 minutes.  This would be a training load of 405/week and an increase of 12.5%.
  1. Get Screened By a Professional. If you are thinking of starting to exercise for the first time, it’s best to be cleared by a medical doctor. If you have already been exercising and are now looking to increase your activity levels, try something new or have struggled with injuries in the past, a sports therapist is often a great place to start.  Look for a Sports Physiotherapist, Kinesiologist, Athletic Therapist or Certified Exercise Physiologist that specializes in analyzing movement patterns.  They can help design a program that helps your body build the strength and mobility it needs to handle what you’re going to throw at it.

Being active and getting into shape are great goals for 2017. By starting out correctly you can ensure you keep yourself pain and injury free during your transformation to tip-top shape.

Here’s to good health this New Year!


Scott Gilroy
Registered Physical Therapist – Sherwood Park Sports Physiotherapy