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Many people take a hiatus from exercising during the winter months. When the weather is colder and the days are shorter, it’s tempting to curl up by the fire with a good book or a favorite Netflix series.

Now that spring has arrived, you may be eager to get back to your regular exercise routine. This is a great idea, but be careful before you hit the gym or the trails. Don’t just jump in where you left off last. Here are a few precautionary steps you should take to avoid injury.

1. Consult with your doctor – Just to be on the safe side, check with your doctor to make sure it’s okay for you to restart your exercise program. It’s good to know if you have an iron deficiency, anemia or other issues that need to be addressed before you jump back in the game.

2. Start slowly – If it’s been awhile since you last exercised, let yourself ease back into it. Don’t go for a 10-mile run or bike ride on the first day. If you are taking an exercise class, don’t push yourself to keep up the same level and intensity as the instructor. Exercise at a level that allows you to talk but not sing. Be sure to stretch and warm up first. Gradually increase how long, how hard and how often you exercise.

3. Add one thing at a time — if you’re just getting back into fitness, pick one thing you’d like to try. Choose an activity like jogging, swimming, walking, or dancing that works major muscle groups and gets your heart rate up. Don’t put together an elaborate schedule, only to find out that you’re stressed out or have injured yourself.

4. Practice makes perfect – To prevent injury you should learn and practice correct movement and alignment for your chosen activity.

5. Drink up – Especially on warm or humid days. Drinking water when you’re thirsty usually works for most people, but be careful not to over-hydrate.

6. Rest – Schedule rest days to help your body recover and prevent overuse and fatigue. For instance, if you like to run, running every other day is a good schedule. But the older you get, the more time you need between runs.

If you are itching to get back to your favorite exercise, but are finding that your tennis elbow, neck, back or other chronic pain just won’t go away, The Center for Integrative Medicine is here to help. CIM offers a wide variety of alternative pain management services including chiropractic care, physical therapy and massage therapy. Our goal is to help you find the cause of your pain instead of just treating the symptoms. We also specialize in innovative nonsurgical options for chronic pain such as platelet rich plasma injections, adult stem cell therapy and prolotherapy. Call CIM’s offices in Bend (541) 323-3358 or Redmond (541) 504-0250 to set up a consultation.