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Health Information Are You a Weekend Warrior?

Are you a weekend warrior? Are you one of those folks who sits behind a desk all week then fills your Saturday and Sunday with running, football, basketball or other strenuous physical activities? Being active is great for your body, but if you jump into a sports or exercise routine without the proper conditioning you may be opening yourself up to injury or worse.

"I can't stress enough the importance of taking things slowly, listening to your body and getting more exercise during the work week," says Joseph J. Hennessy, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Rush and one of the team physicians for the Chicago White Sox.

Sudden, excessive workouts on the weekends can lead to pulled muscles, cramps, serious injuries, heart attacks and even sudden cardiac death. The first thing you should do is consult with a physician before starting any vigorous sports or exercise program. Depending on your age and experience, it's not a bad idea to be evaluated even if you've been giving it your all on the weekends for awhile.

Some quick tips for playing safe:

  • Take it slow
  • Warm up then stretch
  • Pay attention to form
  • Listen to your body
  • Stay hydrated
  • Exercise during the week, too
  • Mix it up cross train
  • If you have an injury, consult with your doctor as soon as possible

Warm Up and Take a Slow Start
Start by taking it slowly. Take a brisk walk or other light aerobic activity for 10 to 15 minutes to warm up and increase blood flow to muscles and joints before you exercise. After you're warmed up, stretch your muscles, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds. Now you're ready to get started.

Keeping Those Weekends Safe
While you're exercising or playing sports, remember to pay close attention to your form. Improper form can not only put you in an awkward position that could lead to injury, repeating the same movement using improper form can put your body out of alignment.

Listening to your body is also important to keeping yourself safe. Your body will let you know when you need to slow down or back off. "It's pretty simple – when you experience pain or discomfort, your body is telling you that its reached its limits," says Hennessy. "You'll need to back off, maybe even call it a day."

Staying hydrated is in an important part of keeping your body in optimal working order that some people overlook. You should be getting plenty of fluids before, during and after your activity. "I would consider a sports drink as one of your recovery fluids," says Hennessy. "Because you not only want to replace the fluids, you also need to replace some of the salts your body may have excreted due to increased perspiration."

Cool Down for a Smooth Finish
"And don't forget to cool down," says Hennessy. "This is just as important as the warm up. When you allow your body to slowly cool down after high intensity activity, you'll decrease the amount of soreness you experience later in the week."

Liven Up the Work Week
Everyone should be making room in their weekday routine for physical activity. This advice is especially important for those who give it their all on the weekends. When your body is accustomed to regular physical activity you can avoid many of the pains, strains and soreness associated with being a weekend warrior.

Cross training is a great way to keep you in shape and motivated. By varying your activities throughout the week, you're more likely to get a balanced work out, which can only enhance your abilities on the weekend.

"Some people tend to forget that moderation and consistency are key," says Hennessy. "Intensity is good on occasion, but making the weekend the only time that you're involved in physical activity, can open you up to injury."

More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For information on sports medicine at Rush visit the Sports Medicine Program home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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