Don’t let autumn slow down exercise routine

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As the warmth of summer gives way to crisper autumn days, you may want to identify some new fitness goals for the fall. In a region filled with beautiful bike, running and hiking trails, there are endless opportunities. Dr. Kristine Burke, Chief of Family Medicine, and a family and sports medicine doctor affiliated with Mercy Hospital of Folsom, advises would-be exercisers, occasional gym-goers and avid fitness buffs how to make the most of their workouts. If you’re just starting, the doctor recommends: Start slow and build Whether you’re starting a walking program or looking to get back into a favorite sport, you should always get a green light from your doctor first. “Once you have the go-ahead, start off with a level of intensity that is mild to moderate and stop when you are tired, even if you’re tired after only 10 minutes. This is your baseline. Increase the time or intensity of your workout by 10 percent each week until you are able to exercise at least to a moderate level for 30 minutes three to four days per week,” said Burke. “A slow buildup is the golden rule to avoid injury.” If you’re inconsistent, but want to exercise more, the doctor recommends: Exercise in groups or with a partner “It seems that often the best motivator is having commitment to another person,” Dr. Burke says. “Most of us are not that great at motivating ourselves consistently, but if you have an exercise friend whom you meet at a scheduled time, you’re more likely to be consistent.” If you’re a fitness fiend and need to avoid injury, the doctor recommends: Mix it up Don’t let your workouts become too habitual. “I’ve seen runners with foot and leg injuries because they run the same direction on the same side of the road day after day, and because of the slope to the shoulder, they’re exerting an uneven force on their body that can add up over time,” said Burke. To maximize your workout, try activities outside your comfort zone or routine to keep things interesting. And if you do overdo it, “Low-impact exercises are beneficial cross-training techniques,” she said. “For example, substituting Pilates for an impact activity, such as running, can maintain fitness even while you are recovering from an overuse injury.” In the end, no matter what your fitness level is, Burke said you should enjoy the beauty of the region safely, while doing something good for yourself and your heart.