Spring Clean Your Workout Routine

January 7, 2016


Whether it’s your New Year’s Resolution, you want to be ready for bathing suit season or just want to be look better and be healthier, there’s no better time than the present to jump start your workout routine. Chuck Pelitera, EdD, assistant professor of kinesiology and coordinator of health and wellness, has some tips for you to get in shape safely and effectively.


When should you replace your yoga mat?

The general rule of thumb is to replace the mat within six months to a year.  However, those who practice yoga three times per week or more may need to replace it more often.

Uneven thickness is also a good reason to replace your mat because you could be more susceptible to injuries.  The injuries could come as a result of a sprain of an ankle or knee or could be in the form of an overuse injury.  Overuse injuries such as ilio-tibial (IT) band inflammation, plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis can occur as a result of poor form during exercise which could be linked to an “uneven” mat. 

The mat should also retain its tackiness.  There are many poses in yoga that require a non-slip surface and as that surface deteriorates, it could create problems.  The mat was originally designed to be tacky and it should be used with that in mind.

How often should you replace your running shoes? What injuries are you at risk for if the cushioning of your shoes has broken down?

Most runners generally agree that shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles of training.  For the average runner who trains three to five times per week that could be somewhere between three and four months.  There are however, some exceptions.  Minimalist shoes have become somewhat popular.  This is a more sensible approach to running barefoot. These types of shoes are significantly thinner at the heel and sole and therefore wear out at a faster rate.

The test to determine if new shoes are needed is simple and involves common sense.  If you start to feel discomfort in areas that did not bother you before, the shoe may be the issue.  Classic signs are hip pain (IT band), patellar tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and lower leg syndrome (shin splints).

When do you need to replace workout gear made with performance fabrics? What causes them to break down, and how could that wear and tear impact your workout?

The main reason that moisture-wicking and antimicrobial gear break down is the way in which they are treated after the workout.  They should never be left wet with perspiration in a gym bag where bacteria can fester and has the chance to aid in the deterioration of fibers and their function. 

In addition, the way in which they are washed can enhance or decrease the longevity of exercise clothing.  Fabric softener and dryer sheets should never be used in washing moisture-wicking or antimicrobial workout gear.  Both of these products will affect the fiber composition of the fabric and stop the fabric from doing what it was designed to do.

Most workout clothes should never be put into a dryer. They should be line-dried to prolong their life expectancy. This practice will also limit the static electricity found in most of these fabrics upon being placed in the dryer.

The best way to prolong the functions associated with various types of workout gear is to hand wash and line dry.


Workout at home with minimal equipment

Body weight exercises are always an option for home workouts (pushups, abdominal curl-ups etc.) For those who do not have any equipment at home, use your imagination.  Old paint cans filled to various levels can be used in a similar fashion to a dumb bell or a kettlebell.  Any items that will hold water (milk bottles, bleach bottles etc.) are good choices for weight-lifting equipment as good old H2O is considered our heaviest implement for resistive training.  A good sturdy chair is a great piece of equipment. With some ingenuity it can be used for different types of core work as well as for pushups and dip types if exercises.

There is also the option of purchasing equipment. People sell used exercise equipment all of the time. With the opportunity to use Craig’s List and E-Bay, one can often find equipment and extremely reasonable prices. Quite often the seller will take much less then they originally ask for so do not be afraid to make an offer.

Want to join a gym? Here are some tips for picking one.

Gyms are so competitive these days that from an equipment perspective you really cannot go wrong.  Two factors that play an important role in a person’s choice for a gym is the atmosphere and the clientele.  Many health clubs will give you at least one opportunity to work out before you actually join.  Should this option be available, make sure that you choose the time in which you will normally be there.  That way you will get a true indication as to how crowded it is, who works out at that time and even the dynamics of how the club works.  It can be very frustrating if you are always waiting to use a piece of equipment because it is being monopolized by a selfish member.  Some people will also choose a gym and a workout time based on the age group or gender of those working out at that time of day. 

There is also the option of choosing a women’s only health club if that is a preference. 

Try some creative outdoor workout ideas

Participating in resistive training outdoors is another opportunity to use your imagination.  Many of the chores that are referred to as “yard work” can be great forms of resistive training if you concentrate on your form and how you are performing the “chore.” Raking leaves can be one of the best core exercises one will ever utilize.  Stand up straight and concentrate on using the abdominal muscles, shoulders and arms to perform the raking action. 

Are looking for a way to improve “power” to hit the golf ball further? Chopping wood is a great way to explosively develop the same groups of muscles used in many “swinging” types of activities.  Make sure to get a good quality splitting ax (maul) and learn the safety techniques involved in this intense outdoor workout activity.

Here are some helpful tips how to dress for cold weather workouts

The areas of the body that are usually of the most concern when exercising outdoors in the winter are the head and the hands.  There have been varying statistics about how much heat that you lose through the head, however, any area of the body that is exposed is going to lose heat at a greater rate. 

The biggest issues when it comes to exercise in the winter are wind chill and rain or snow.  A significant wind-chill, for example at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, will dramatically increase the likelihood of frostbite.  You will need to dress for the wind. Be sure to wear a hat, scarf and gloves.  If you get wet while exercising, core temperature will drop much quicker than on a dry day. 

Do not put “foot warmers” in your shoes to keep your feet warm.   They will cause your feet to prematurely sweat and as the sweat attempts to evaporate, it will cool your feet and they will actually become colder.

After completing your exercise session if you plan to stay outdoors, completely strip down and change your clothes, including under garments.  Sweat underneath your workout clothes will cause you to become cold at a much quicker rate.

Pelitera, assistant professor of kinesiology at Canisius College, served as strength and conditioning coordinator for the college’s NCAA Division I athletic teams for nearly 20 years. He currently teaches courses in wellness/fitness, nutrition, evolution of disease, and exercise testing and prescription. Pelitera is a CSCS*D (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist w/ Distinction) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), as well as an NSCACPT*D (Certified Personal Trainer w/ Distinction) through the NSCA. Pelitera operates Pelitera’s Fitness Consultants in Williamsville, NY, where has designed customized fitness routines for over 30 years. His clients include student athletes, professional athletes, and men, women, children and individuals looking to lose weight or just get themselves into shape.