Getting Back in Shape for Summer

A sports medicine specialist talks about pandemic weight gain and what you can do to get back in shape as we head into summer.

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CLEVELAND – With summer just around the corner, many people are hoping to shed that extra weight gained during the pandemic. But if you haven’t worked out in a while, you may be wondering where to start.

“I think it’s always really important to kind of take baby steps and ease into it. You don’t need to go into the gym and spend an hour and a half doing both cardio and weights right away. I think small incremental steps and changes are the most beneficial, the least intimidating and the most sustainable,” said Marie Schaefer, MD, sports medicine specialist for Cleveland Clinic.

She said if you feel comfortable going to the gym, you can always exercise outside, which is actually safer when it comes to COVID-19.

She also recommends getting vaccinated if you haven’t already. That way you’re protected when doing group activities, like an aerobics class.

As far as dieting goes, she said stay away from any fad diets. They may give you quick results, but they’re not sustainable long-term. She recommends counting calories instead, which can you do using a phone app.

She said it’s also important to drink lots of water and get enough sleep. Mental health plays a big role, too.

“If you really find yourself in a very anxious place, even a depressed place, really seek out medical care. The pandemic is uprooting a lot of mental health issues and I think people need to be mindful that this might not just be the pandemic, it might be an underlying mood disorder,” said Dr. Schaefer.

She said if you recently had COVID-19, it’s especially important to ease back into exercise – even if you were pretty athletic before. She said it can be dangerous to push your body too hard, so know your limits.

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