Step into Spring

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Approximately, fifty people "Stepped into Spring" with a non-competitive 5k May 1.

People came out to enjoy the great weather and to jump-start their fitness programs. As people prepare for a more active lifestyle this summer there are fitness guidelines to follow to help make it injury free and effective.

May is National Sports and Fitness month, and there are positive health and social benefits to getting off the couch and over to the fitness center, a track, running trail, pool, court, park or other venue of your choice.

Before beginning any exercise program you should check with your primary care manager team to make sure you are cleared to start a program.

Follow the FITTER principle to ensure your program is effective and you are seeing the results you are aiming toward:

Frequency is the most important fitness variable in the FITTER principle. Being consistent with your program will help you maintain the benefits you acquire. Three times per week a person can expect health changes. Five or more times a week changes in weight, body composition and performance can be noted.

Intensity changes will result in different benefits. Lower intensity zones increase your aerobic adaptations and make great health changes. Higher intensity zones, after base training, will help with weight loss and improving your lactic acid threshold. Include twice a week higher intense workouts such as intervals, sprints or fast tempo runs.

Time or distance is the next important variable. Starting out slow and easy allows your cardiovascular system to make aerobic adaptations and the lower intensity allows your muscles to become stronger so they can support more intense activities.

This will decrease many injuries occurred in the first three months of a program. Once you have accomplished four to eight weeks of base training your body is most likely reading for intervals, sprints and faster paced tempos.

Type is the last T and aerobically that means moving the large legs muscles as a minimum. Walking, biking, hiking, swimming, and jogging are wonderful examples.

E is for enjoyment. Find what you like to do to make it more enjoyable. Add friends, family members and pets to keep it fun and interesting.

R is for rate of progression or the art of fitness prescription. A 10 percent increase in time and or distance each week is a good goal to begin your program. Only change one component at a time. Changing more than one could result in an injury.

Don't forget strength training in your program. Strength training is very important for increasing muscle mass, bone density and changing the metabolism rate. Strength training keeps you functional, doing what you want to do for the rest of your life. Visit your fitness center or Health and Wellness Center for more information on nutrition and fitness programs.