The Medical Minute: Don't overdo it, you weekend warrior

August 18, 2011 By Matthew Silvis, Pennsylvania State University
Chris Garguilo, a junior and THON 5K particpant, runs along Curtin Road past discared water cups, remnants of a water station set up by THON committee members to refresh the more than 4,000 who turned out to run through campus on Sunday, Oct. 17, in support of the Penn State Dance Marathon. Credit: Andy Colwell

There are many benefits to exercise. Exercise not only helps prevent a variety of medical disorders -- including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis -- but it is increasingly recommended for treatment of health problems. Exercise improves and maintains muscle mass, endurance and mobility and can improve appearance and self confidence. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that all healthy adults ages 18 to 65 years engage in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days a week. Similar recommendations exist for adults older than 65 years of age with the caveat that aerobic fitness, flexibility and balance be taken into account.

Many individuals have difficulties finding the time to exercise five days a week given the demands of work and family. The term “weekend warrior” describes an individual who compresses his weekly activity into long durations on the weekend instead of exercising throughout the week. Common examples of weekend warrior activities include playing basketball for an afternoon, hiking for four hours or doing five hours of yard work.

Weekend warriors are particularly susceptible to overuse injuries. A person's musculoskeletal system changes with age. Bone mass and strength decrease, joint cartilage breaks down, discs in our spine become compressed and tendons tighten. A person with an aging musculoskeletal system trying to compress his weekly activity into long durations on a weekend (and maybe even trying to do a sporting activity that they have not done in a long time) can readily overwhelm their musculoskeletal system. This perfect storm can easily lead to an overuse injury.

For those individuals who consider themselves weekend warriors, the following tips may be useful:

1. Be realistic and respect your body’s limits. Push yourself but with the right precautions. Pain that persists into the next day may be an early indicator of a musculoskeletal injury and that you did too much. Consider adjusting your schedule to try to exercise throughout the week.

2. Cross train regularly and try to engage in nonweight-bearing exercise (swimming, cycling, elliptical) weekly. Weight lifting is encouraged to strengthen muscles and increase your bone density. Make sure to rest between weight lifting repetitions and days. At least one rest day should be taken weekly.

3. Watch diet to ensure proper nutrition for both exercise performance and for rebuilding muscle and energy stores after exercise.

4. For sport specific injury prevention and tips on proper conditioning, get good advice from a health care professional and/or personal trainer.

5. Pay close attention to and replace your equipment (old cleats, worn shoes, etc.). For example, running shoes should be changed every 4-6 months or 300-500 miles.

6. Lastly, expand your definition of success. While running a 5K in a certain amount of time or lifting a certain weight may have been your previous measure of success, remember the incredible health benefits of staying physically active.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

cnb
not rated yet Aug 19, 2011
Always interesting to read advice of the sort found under 5. above.

As far as I know there has not been produced a study showing that fresh and bouncy running shoes actually prevent injuries. Nor do shoes specifically tailored to individual conditions (pronation, e.g.) seem to do much for injury prevention.

I can assume that once one actually has contracted an injury it might feel better to use all sorts of supportive equipment, but that's a different issue.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.