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Getting Fit

Arguably the most popular New Year’s Resolution is to get back in shape, and many people are taking steps to do so now. There are a multitude of health benefits to going to the gym, running, attending fitness class, and the like. Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t active enough. And there are many dangers to leading a sedentary lifestyle.

But how active are Americans? New data published in The Atlantic listed the fittest states in the United States. More specifically, they showed the variations for the percent of adults who met guidelines for exercise. The Atlantic piece included maps that showed how well each state’s residents did in only aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening exercise, as well as a combination of both types.

Fit State

What states do you think did best? Some might lean toward southern states where warmer temperatures encourage people to go outdoors year-round. Actually, there was a negative correlation between yearly average temperature and exercise across the United States.

It is no surprise, though, that the Northwest and Washington ranked highly. This area is active and outdoors-y, encouraging physical activity. With Washington on the higher end of people who exercise both aerobically and with muscle strengthening, it seems a lot of our fellow residents are hitting the gym.

Exercise can and should be encouraged. But it’s important to remember not to overdo it – this can lead to pain and injury. If you go from not working out for months to going every single day, you are setting yourself up for pain.

Tips to get (and stay!) physically fit this year without back pain:

  • Ease into it: Physicians say this over and over again, and for good reason. Overdoing it can cause injuries. Although these injuries may be minor, they can surely cause you pain, or worsen if you keep overdoing it.
  • Warm up:  Your body needs to get ready for high-impact exercise. Start with some light jogging or stretching before you do anything else.
  • Set the height: Whether it’s your bicycle or a stationary bike at the gym, having the seat at the proper height is vital in preventing back pain. Having a bike seat at the wrong setting can cause lower back pain.
  • Watch your abdominal crunches:  Back pain can come from this popular, seemingly innocuous exercise: the abdominal crunch. The spine is bending repeatedly when you do crunches. Instead, try doing planks to strengthen your abdominals and core.
  • Ask for help:  If you’re just starting out in the gym, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many gyms offer a free session with a personal trainer. Or just ask the staff if you are not sure how to use a certain machine. Better safe than sorry!
  • Listen to your body:  If you are feeling physically exhausted, or haven’t taken a day off in over a week, take a rest day. Your body needs recovery time and one day won’t make or break your health and fitness goals.

Going along with listen to your body, if you are experiencing back pain, it may be time to contact us or call our dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-891-1964.

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