As a busy entrepreneur, the impulse to spend some time outside is likely present; it’s a natural instinct with the changing seasons. The promise of spring means several things: the weather is getting gradually more tolerable, daylight is getting longer and the desire to get outdoors and put an end to the winter hibernation continues to increase.

The primary question often asked this time of year is, “Now that I am motivated to get some activity outdoors, where should I start?”

Some general principles should be applied to your plan:

  • Start your exercise program where you are today. It does not matter how much fitness you had last summer or fall—it only matters where your fitness and ability rests today.  It is a common desire to get out and start with the workouts you remember doing last summer when you were getting outside on a regular basis, but starting where you left off is not a good idea.  This behavior can often lead individuals to injuries or various levels of aches and pains, which won’t contribute to keeping a regular workout routine.
  • Progress your exercise in an intelligent way. If you were successful throughout the winter and maintained a good routine, remain smart and increase your program with a stepwise and gradual progression.  To do this, you should not increase your total amount of exercise by much more than 10% each week.  Common ways to monitor your exercise program’s progression include:
    • Duration of a workout
    • Intensity of a workout
    • Frequency of workouts you get in during a week.
  • Focus on frequency. If you are coming out of the winter “hibernation”, my suggestion is that you focus on the frequency of workouts you get in during the week.  Start with a goal of 3-5 exercise sessions per week. Once you have proven you can consistently do this, it is time to review the workouts and determine if they need to be longer or more challenging.
  • Incorporate something new into your schedule.  Once you have been working out consistently and are looking to add to the duration or intensity, consider adding a different type of exercise.  If you were on the elliptical and treadmill all winter, then start the spring with running outdoors. Or, try adding some calisthenics in the park or include some running drills and a dynamic warm up before you hit the road.
  • Take inventory of your workout gear and update items that need to be changed.  This is particularly true of your athletic shoes.  If you are still getting by with the shoes you spent all fall and winter in,buy a new pair. It’ll encourage you to get outdoors and active again.
  • Don’t just use your workout sessions as a reason to get outdoors.  The fresh air and sunlight should be enjoyed throughout the day. Therefore, schedule some non-exercise activity into your day.  There are many ways to get this done, but here are a few favorites:
    • Walk to get your morning coffee.
    • Take a “pre lunch” lap around the block.
    • Get your co-workers to participate in a walking meeting.
    • Do an end of the day “de-stress” walk before you commute home, which will not only give you some fresh air, but also allow you to reflect on the day and what you need to get done tomorrow.

This time of year is one of the best times to get outside.  After spending the winter months tucked away inside dealing with the lack of sunlight, it is now possible to enjoy the natural instinct of  moving outside and breathing fresh air.

If you follow some of these guidelines, you will not only be able to enjoy the outdoors over the next couple months, but you will have done it in a way that allows you to be healthy and fit all summer and fall.  This plan for spring fitness ensures you begin your exercise plan without doing too much, too soon or unprepared.