About four years ago, Lee Walls fell in love with running.
What started as a step toward getting healthier by running a few miles near home turned into a haven from the stresses of daily life.
“Being alone, on a road with a curated playlist was a really good way to clear my mind,” said Walls, an IT analyst at Duke’s Office of Information Technology.
Somewhere along the way, the idea of running a marathon occurred to him. He created a training plan on a spreadsheet and posted a printout on the refrigerator. After months of work, he ran his first marathon in Wilmington in November 2020; the second on the American Tobacco Trail in April 2021; and his third at Charlotte last November.
“I loved every minute of it,” Walls said.
With the warm weather and a gradual return to some pre-pandemic rhythms, many in the Duke community are reviving their exercise routines or starting new ones, so staying injury-free is key.
“Any level of activity, as long as it’s safe, is ideal,” said Tim Bisantz, fitness program manager for LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke’s employee wellness program. “With busy schedules, the need for work-life balance, and the demands of caring for a family, any physical activity that people can engage in and enjoy is important. And making it part of the routine, and expanding it, can be essential for personal health and well-being.”
Here are some simple tips from Duke colleagues who make physical activity a big part of their lives and how they’ve taken on challenges and stayed injury-free.
When it comes to athletic thrills, the Duke Interdisciplinary Priorities Coordinator Amy Feistel find yours in the passenger seat of powerful and agile cars rocketing around hairpin turns and over gut-churning hills. the rally motoring features two people, a navigator and a driver, teaming up to guide cars on timed circuits of white-knuckle courses or on marathon rides through rugged landscapes.
Over the last few years, Feistel has served as a navigator for different drivers at races in New York, Tennessee and other places along the East Coast, studying the courses beforehand and giving precise instructions moment by moment during the race.
“It’s quite cerebral, it’s about timing, it’s about understanding the vehicle and teamwork,” Feistel said. “There are so many different pieces that I really enjoy.”
As well as the ability to remain calm when full of adrenaline, rallying also requires the sailor to be fit enough to withstand the jolts of travel, where cars can reach 80 miles per hour, and the heat of the wetsuit. flame retardant
Feistel uses yoga and weight training to help with core strength and balance. But when it comes to staying hydrated during a race, she knows there’s more to it than just having water in the car.
Cheyanne Oakley, an exercise physiologist at Duke Health & Fitness Center who helps clients create and implement fitness plans into their lives, notes that hydration aids athletic performance by keeping joints lubricated, keeping the body cool and helping key cellular functions, such as those related to burning fat, going.
“Water is necessary for all of our bodily functions,” Oakley said. “When you exercise, you are actively losing water. So the water content, when it’s low, negatively affects your body and makes it hard for it to function effectively.”
But to reap the benefits of hydration, you need to make sure the fluids you drink are fully absorbed. To do this, drink fluids slowly throughout the day and consume plenty before you exercise. the Institute of Medicine recommends that adult women consume around 2.7 liters of water from all sources over the course of the day; adult men should consume about 3.7 liters.
“Paying attention to hydration is important, but it’s something you need to do ahead of time,” Feistel said. “When I approach a competition, I start thinking about it two or three days in advance.”
Whether you’re running or walking, meera gandhimedical assistant at Duke Urgent Care Croasdaile, lives to be outside.
Her treks, ranging from five to 10 miles, have taken her to Alaska, California, the Himalayas, the Andes and Costa Rica. But she understands that what can stifle her wanderlust is injury. That’s why she makes sure to stretch her leg muscles before and after every run or walk.
“I’m getting older and I realize I’m a little bit more prone to injury,” the 34-year-old Gandhi said. “So I know that stretching is incredibly important.”
Oakley said warming up before exercising with dynamic stretching, or moving joints through their full range of motion, is preferable to stretching cold muscles, which can lead to injury. Instead of just stretching your muscles, LIVE FOR LIFE’s Bisantz suggests trying jumping jacks, squats or arm circles as moves that can get your heart rate up while also warming up key muscle groups.
And after a workout, stretching your muscles enough to feel tight but not uncomfortable can help you build flexibility and reduce your risk of future injury.
“After exercising, it can sometimes be difficult for muscles to fully relax after they’ve been under that stress,” Oakley said. “So taking the time to stretch your muscles and forcing them to fully stretch gives them a chance to relax and relieve tension. That’s really important to prevent muscle soreness and prevent injuries.”
When Duke OIT’s read walls he started running seriously in 2018, he could only run two or three miles at a time. When he set the goal of completing a marathon, which is 26.2 miles, it seemed almost impossible.
But Walls gave himself plenty of time, about six months, and stuck to a plan, adding distance to his runs slowly, until the longer training runs of 16 and 20 miles didn’t seem so overwhelming. His approach worked as he remained injury-free and was ready when race day came around.
“I just made my plan and stuck with it,” Walls said.
Whether you’re planning something ambitious or just hoping to fit more movement into your day, it’s important to follow Walls’ gradual approach to avoid putting too much pressure on your body. A common approach is to increase the time or intensity of your exercise in small increments each week. For example, if you’re training for a race, try slowly increasing the distances of your long runs. If you run five miles one week, do five and a half the next. Then try six miles a week later.
Quickly adding too many miles to your runs, or too much time exercising, can increase your risk of injury to joints and muscles that can’t adapt to the increased stress.
LIVE FOR LIFE’s Bisantz said documenting your progress is also helpful. Whether you write down the length or duration of your workouts on a piece of paper, like Walls did for his marathon training, or with the help of a watch or phone app that counts your steps or logs your workouts, having a Recording your progress helps with inspiration and accountability.
“Regardless of what you’re doing, if you track, you can see how much more you’re doing,” Bisantz said. “If you can document your progress, you can make a big difference. It’s a snowball effect. It can help you stay consistent.”
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