That means exercisers — both newbies and seasoned pros — are hitting the trails and filling the gyms.
But when that new fitness program you’re itching to try says to check with your doctor first, do you really need to?
If you’re young, in fairly good health and aren’t too far removed from your last exercise regimen, it might be OK if you skip the doc. But it’s always a good idea to check, said Dr. Michelle Benes, a family physician with CHI Health.
“As people get older and the longer it’s been since they exercised, it probably is a good idea to come in and make sure they’re starting on an exercise program that fits their health status,” Benes said.
Doctors will look for issues with blood pressure, heart murmurs, abnormal pulse, swelling in the legs and signs of asthma, Benes said.
It’s also a good time to look for any underlying illnesses. Some issues, such as asthma, might be exacerbated by certain workouts. Other conditions, like nerve disease, might cause balance issues, heightening the risk for falls.
Exercise might improve other conditions, Benes said. Fibromyalgia sufferers will find they do well with warm-water workouts. People struggling with back pain can be guided toward exercise targeting the core and abs rather than heavy weights.
Benes suggests bringing up fitness routines at an annual physical. Doctors then can discuss other health factors, such as diet, sleep, alcohol consumption and screen time.
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To start, she recommends that people consider a simple walking program. Cycling or aerobics might be too much out of the gate, and that could lead to injuries.
“Starting slowly is a better option if you decide to get into any exercise program,” she said.
It’s important that gymgoers share any chronic or underlying illnesses with trainers when working out, too. The trainers then can tailor a workout to best benefit the individuals.
For example, someone with arthritis might share which joints bother them. Then they can work to strengthen the muscles around those joints, rather than putting more stress on the joints.
Benes offered the following tips to people getting into new workout routines:
- Start slow. “It doesn’t take very long to get out of shape. It does take a lot longer to get back in shape.”
- Set realistic expectations. If you have been out of the gym for a few years, don’t expect to be able to lift the same amount of weight or run at the same speed.
- Listen to your body, and don’t get competitive with fellow gymgoers. An injury will only set you back.
- Stick with it. It takes time to make exercise a habit, so don’t quit too soon.
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Float spas, where users are suspended in a salty bath, started popping up in Omaha in 2016. Spa-goers enter a private float tank nearly double the size of a bathtub. Hundreds of pounds of Epsom salt have been dissolved in the shallow pool of water so people float on top. Proponents say floating reduces muscle and joint pain, shortens recovery time from athletic training or injuries, relieves stress and increases creativity. Click here to read a World-Herald story on float spas.
If you've been dreaming of dribbling a soccer ball while encased in a plastic bubble, you're in luck. That trend made its way to Omaha in 2015. The game can be tough — experienced players tumble right alongside first-timers. Click here to read a World-Herald story on bubble soccer.
Local yogis can find their flow among a tribe of baby goats. Two dairies in Honey Creek, Iowa, started offering the classes in 2018. The goat yoga trend started in Oregon in 2016 and has since swept most of the country. The wandering goats add some levity to yoga, known for improving flexibility and decreasing stress. Click here to read a previous World-Herald story on goat yoga.
Kickball isn't just for kids. Adult kickball leagues have joined the mix of recreational sports in Omaha, much like sand volleyball and softball. The sport gets players moving, but it doesn't feel like a grueling workout. Some kickballers called it "exercise in disguise." Click here to read a World-Herald story on kickball.
Ballet-inspired workouts made their way to the Omaha area back in 2014. The city is home to handful of studios purely devoted to the workouts, which combine yoga, Pilates and ballet movements performed on a dance barre. Some local gyms and fitness studios offer the classes, too. Instructors said the classes are fun and motivating. Click here to read a World-Herald story on barre.
Rowing isn't new, but it's made a splash on the local fitness scene. The exercise machines had fallen out of favor thanks to treadmills, weight rooms and group exercise classes. But they've been reintroduced through fitness trends like CrossFit and Orangetheory. At least two local studios have debuted classes built around the machines. Click here to read a World-Herald story on rowing.
Participants — wearing minimal clothing — stand in a chamber that looks like an aluminum can and grows colder over two to three minutes using liquid nitrogen. The temperature drops to between negative 200 and 240 degrees. Proponents say the high-tech ice baths reduce inflammation, relieve pain, prevent injury, increase energy and speed healing. The practice also has been credited for cosmetic benefits. But some medical professionals are skeptical. Click here to read a World-Herald story on cryotherapy.
Exercisers bask in glowing orange lights and blaring upbeat music at Orangetheory Fitness. The metro area now is home to a handful of the studios, which got their start in Florida in 2009. During the classes, a trainer leads people through a circuit-style workout that rotates between treadmills, rowing machines and a strength area with free weights. Members wear heart rate monitors to track their efforts during a workout. Click here to read a World-Herald story on Orangetheory Fitness.
Pound classes debuted in Omaha in 2015. The classes are a full-body strength and cardio workout that simulates drumming. Exercisers pound the drumsticks in the air, against each other and on the ground while performing strength exercises like squats and lunges. Click here to read a World-Herald story on Pound.
Aerial yoga blends yoga poses with acrobatics. Yogis practice in hammocks, flipping upside-down. It incorporates stretching and strength exercises, cardio and meditation. Instructors say the class is good for the spine, alleviating pressure — although there are some risks, and the class isn't for everyone. Click here to read a World-Herald story on aerial yoga.
Heart rate monitors are a standard part of curriculum for some metro high school students. They've also made an appearance in several boutique gyms. Teachers at Mercy High School said wearing the monitors prep students for a lifetime of fitness. Click here to read a World-Herald story on the monitors.