Moms, get into running! Kids, get outside!

Spring is right around the corner. With the warmer weather, many women will start running outside for routine exercise. Some may decide to train for the Columbus half or full marathon and others will simply run to lose weight and tone up. Regardless of your motivation, taking the right approach is paramount to success and injury prevention.

While running is highly caloric (average expenditure is 100 calories per mile), it is highly demanding on the body. Those with excess weight, arthritis, neck/back problems and muscle strength and flexibility imbalances are more prone to injury. To ensure safety and success with running, it is necessary to take the following action steps:

1) Determine your foot type (pronator, normal or supinator) and invest in a good pair of running shoes. Improper footwear may lead to shin splints, tendonitis or even stress fractures.
2) Perform appropriate strength training 2-3 times per week, with emphasis on single-leg strength training, core exercises and appropriate upper body work.
3) Integrate daily flexibility training to resolve specific muscle flexibility issues.
4) Plan your running based on your prior training experience and goals. For novice runners, start with a walk/jog interval approach (typically 2:1 walk to jog ratio) and build up minutes slowly. More experienced runners may build up faster, but should use a calendar to schedule and track the type of runs (pace, tempo, speed, etc.) as well as record times and physical response.
5) Allow adequate recovery. This may be the most overlooked secret to success. All runners need at least one, if not two days per week of rest. They may cross train, but should abstain from running every day to avoid overuse.
6) Listen to your body. If you experience aches and pains that last beyond 24 hours after a run, this is an indication you should rest or consider reducing volume and/or intensity.
7) Fuel your body with proper nutrition. Pre-run and post-run nutrition is equally important. You should take in a small meal with lean protein and carbohydrates 60-90 minutes prior to the run and within 30 minutes after a run. Hydration is a must too. Generally, consider taking in 8 ounces of water after for every 15 minutes of running. For durations less than 60 minutes, water is efficient for hydration. Beyond one hour, electrolyte drinks are helpful in restoring optimum electrolyte and fluid balance.

Revisiting "play" as fitness for our children

Parents today are seeking convenient ways to make sure their children get enough exercise. In this fast-paced world, people often look beyond nature and forget about free play. What does this mean exactly?

Well, consider for a moment that our children learn through play. Play is running, jumping, skipping, sliding, falling, tumbling, rolling, etc. Movements like these teach them how to live and survive in their environments, all the while allowing them to build strength and cardiovascular capacity.

So, what types of play are best for our kids? Below are a few examples of play that will dramatically improve their health and fitness:
Jumping rope
Climbing
Wrestling
Hide and seek
Tag

These activities are effective because they allow kids to develop coordination, improve strength, experience competition, and respond to challenges and even adversity. These are all things that seem to be increasingly lost in this age of technology. Want your kids to be healthier and happier? Send them outside to play with their friends and siblings.

Brian Schiff, owner of Fitness Edge, is a nationally known sports and fitness training expert, specializing in injury prevention and return to play for professional and amateur athletes of all ages. Fitness Edge now offers Adventure Boot Camp for Women in Dublin, Westerville, Upper Arlington and Grove City. www.thefitnessedge.cc