Exercise to Ease Chronic Anxiety This Year 

A new year offers the potential for new opportunities and experiences. For those who struggle with general and consistent anxiety, however, the prospect of the new year and the expectations that come with it can be tricky to maneuver. 

It’s with this in mind that Valencia physical therapist Tim Eckard reminds us that one of the most natural and effective ways to ease anxiety symptoms any time of year is through regular exercise. 

“Going for a walk, taking a bike ride, hitting the gym or signing up for an exercise class … they all can be powerfully effective tools for easing anxiety and its effects on your life and health,” said Eckardco-owner and clinic director of Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy in Valencia, Lancaster and Santa Clarita. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), an estimated one in five adults and one in three teens experience chronic anxiety disorder each year. This disorder is defined as anxiety that’s persistent, excessive and routinely triggered by situations that aren’t actually threats. 

Though it’s a psychological condition, Eckard says anxiety can take a toll on one’s physical health. 

“High stress and anxiety have been linked to higher blood pressure and a greater risk of heart disease and stroke,” said Eckard. “Also, those who have high levels of anxiety tend to be more sedentary and avoid challenging situations, which can also have long-term health consequences.” 

So, how does exercise help ease anxiety? Eckard points out four ways this happens: 

Your brain chemistry changes. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals, like dopamine and endorphins in the brain, which contribute toward making you feel calmer and happier. 

General tension diminishes. Whether working out, competing, playing or dancing, moving your body reduces general muscle tension in the body, decreasing your general feeling of anxiety. 

You get distracted. Exercising can have a distracting effect, diverting your mind from the things about which you are or have been anxious. It’s also been shown that exercising outdoors, in nature, can calm your mind. 

You give your brain a boost. Several studies have shown that regular exercise can maintain, and even improve, cognitive function in the brain. That means exercise can actually help you strengthen your ability to weather high-stress situations. 

“On its own, exercise may not completely solve your anxiety issues,” Eckard said, pointing out that those suffering from chronic anxiety should discuss options with their personal physician. “When possible, though, studies show that regular exercise should be part of any natural, long-term treatment for anxiety.” 

And, if you struggle to stick with a consistent exercise regimen, Eckard offers a few tips. 

“Don’t just join a gym. Find an activity or activities you enjoy,” LAST said. “Recruit a friend or friends for some social support, and set a SMART goal. This acronym describes a goal that’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.” 

Also, visit a physical therapist if pain, discomfort, weaknesses or chronic conditions are keeping you from exercising safely and consistently. Following an initial assessment, a PT can develop a personalized exercise program that best aligns with your individual circumstances and goals. 

Find Relief from Holiday Tension Headaches with Physical Therapy

The fact that the season of giving, joy and celebration can also be our most stressful time of year is one of the worst kept secrets of the Holidays.

And yet, year after year, we charge forward, often fighting through tension-type headaches to complete our shopping, plan for get-togethers with friends, and fulfill all our family obligations.

But why fight through the headaches, asks Valencia physical therapist Tim Eckard, when a physical therapist can often provide relief from tension-type headaches by correcting the problems that cause the pain?

What is a Tension Headache?

“A tension headache often starts with pain or dysfunction at the back of the head or neck – discomfort that can spread around your head, and even to your eyes,” said Eckard, co-owner and clinic director at Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy in Valencia, Lancaster and Santa Clarita.

“What we as physical therapists can do, after a thorough examination and a series of questions, is determine the likely causes of your headache. Then, we can treat these causes.”

According to the World Health Organization, a tension-type headache (TTH) is the most common primary headache disorder in the world, typically related to stress or associated with musculoskeletal problems in the neck.

One study published in the U.S. Library of Medicine called tension-type headaches the second-most common illness worldwide, affecting 80 to 90 percent of people at least once in their lives.

Tension headaches, as they’re often called, are frequently described as a feeling of pressure or tightness, often like a band around the head that spreads into or from the neck.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), these headaches may be caused by stress, fatigue, poor posture, or problems with the neck or jaw – like an injury.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

“Once we determine the cause of your tightness and pain, a PT can work with you to correct the underlying problem that’s leading you to experience these headaches,” Eckard said.

“This can be fatigued muscles from bad posture, or a lack of strength or mobility in your neck and shoulders.”

Often, treatments will focus on three areas: improved posture, improved strength in the upper back, neck and shoulders, and improved mobility in the neck and spine through stretching and pain-reducing movements.

This is also known as manual therapy.

“We’ll not only provide relief through treatments in the clinic, but physical therapists also work with people to correct the issues which caused the headache in the first place, be it improving posture or simple changes in lifestyle,” said Eckard. “PTs always treat with an eye toward future prevention.”

If the Holiday Season has already become a headache for you this year, schedule an assessment with the Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy team to learn more about what’s causing your tension headache and how it can be successfully and affordably treated through physical therapy.

No Time for Exercise? Make Time for Movement.

Don’t have time for exercise? Perhaps it’s time to reframe what true exercise looks like, says Valencia physical therapists Tim Eckard. 

“Exercise doesn’t require a gym, special equipment or a high intensity,” said Eckardco-owner and clinic director of Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy in Valencia, Lancaster and Santa Clarita. “Down to its core, exercise is simply movement. Despite being busy, most of us have plenty of time to move around every day. The key, then, is to optimize these moments to your benefit.” 

With shorter, cooler days ahead of us and the Holiday Season just around the corner, this is often the time of year when exercise is most likely to take a back seat to other obligations – possibly even disappearing for days at a time. 

But with the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition suggesting adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate activity each week, Eckard advises people to not underestimate both the long- and short-term benefits of movement … especially this time of year. 

“Regular exercise often helps reduce stress and improve focus and energy levels, while also improving your mood during the shorter, darker days leading into the Holiday Season,” Eckard said. “This, of course, is in addition the more wide-ranging health benefits most people are familiar with.” 

What can you do, then, if you find you don’t have time to hit the gym or go for that morning jog? Eckard offers the following tips for turning seemingly typical daily moments into opportunities for exercise: 

Take Mobile Meetings: Walking is one of the best and most inclusive exercises out there. So, next time you have a meeting scheduled with a reasonably small group of people, suggest making it a mobile meeting by walking and talking outdoors, through the hallways of your building, or whatever setting is most pedestrian friendly. 

Rethink the Stairs: It’s a no-brainer that taking the stairs instead of the elevator can offer you a dose of additional exercise each day. Beyond this, though, make the stairs part of a greater routine. Even if you have no place to go, burn off some steam by walking the stairs over breaks and during the lunch hour. 

Take Work to the Gym: While you don’t necessarily need a gym to exercise, it definitely pays to take advantage of the membership — if you have one. But, don’t go there in lieu of work. Go there with work. Catch up on reading, emails or other “housekeeping” tasks while walking, pedaling or using the elliptical. 

Pour Yourself into Housework: Whether indoors or out, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of housework as exercise! Just throw on some music, pick up the pace, and throw yourself wholeheartedly into the efforts of cleaning and maintaining your home.  

Visit a Physical Therapist: If other factors such as pain, endurance or movement limitations are keeping you from making exercise a priority in your life, or you simply need help finding a regimen that works best for you, visit with one of the physical therapists at Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy. A physical therapist will assess the source of your limitations or discomforts and provide a path toward leading a more active and healthful life. 

5 Fitness Myths during National PT Month

VALENCIA, CA – When only one in three adults get the recommended amount of physical activity their bodies need each week (according to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition), Valencia physical therapist Tim Eckard says it’s difficult to find fault when an individual is making an effort to exercise … even if the effort’s slightly misguided. 

But since October is National Physical Therapy Month, and physical therapists are the medical community’s preeminent experts in movement, fitness, and musculoskeletal function and injury, Eckard views this month as an opportune time to correct what he sees as a few common misconceptions about exercise. 

“Some of the more common personal goals people make revolve around health, fitness, and weight loss, and we as physical therapists are dedicating to supporting these goals through a number of individualized services,” said Eckardco-owner and clinic director of Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy in Valencia, Lancaster and Santa Clarita. “In doing so, though, it’s important to us that people work toward these objectives in a safe and healthful manner – one which most efficiently moves them toward their goals.” 

In this spirit, here are five exercise myths Eckard finds to be common among many fitness-minded people: 

  1. Stretching before exercise prevents injuries. Perhaps surprisingly, research suggests there’s no connection between pre-workout stretching and injury prevention. In addition, stretching before an activity or competition can actually weaken performance. So instead, warm-up dynamically before a workout by walking, jogging, doing lunges and leg/arm swings, etc. Stretching is incredibly important, but do your stretches independent of your workouts. 
  2. The more, the better. For the more goal-driven crowd, a pedal-to-the-metal approach to fitness can seem the quickest and most efficient way to better health. However, it’s critical workout intensity and length remain in line with one’s current fitness levels and limits. It’s also important to schedule recovery, or off-days, into your routine. Failing to do so can increase your injury risk as well as the risk of burnout.
  3. Cross-training is for athletes only. Cross-training is simply working activities into your regimen that differ from your preferred or usual activities. The goal is to improve your overall fitness level by challenging your cardio, strength, and balance in different ways. Such “training diversification” will help maximize your workout potential while helping to prevent overuse injuries and burnout, so everyone should do it.
  4. Aerobic is more important than strength training. Whether it’s because some are concerned about too much “bulking up” or they feel spending their limited time on ellipticals and stationary bikes will maximize their efforts, cardio is often a focus for those seeking to improve health. It shouldn’t be the only focus, however. Muscular fitness is just as important as cardio for such issues as weight management, bone health, injury prevention, and so on. 
  5. If sore or injured, rest is always best. Wrong again. While rest has a long history as a go-to response to soreness, pain, and injury, research now suggests movement and “active recovery” can actually speed up the healing process, specifically when guided by a physical therapist. 

If pain or injury is keeping you from getting a full dose of exercise and physical activity each week, Eckard suggests visiting a physical therapist. Highly educated and licensed health care professionals, physical therapists are experts at helping people reduce pain, improve/restore mobility, and ultimately lead to more healthful active lives. 

5 Exercises for Improving Balance, Preventing Falls 

When we’re young, falls are treated as teaching opportunities. “Get back on your feet, brush yourself off and keep moving toward your goals,” we were told. 

But as we age, falls take on a much greater significance. According to Valencia physical therapist Tim Eckard, when someone of advanced age falls, they tend to suffer greater distress to their health as well as their pocketbooks. 

“A fall can greatly impact a senior’s ability to live an active, healthful and independent life,” said Eckardco-owner and clinic director of Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy in Valencia, Lancaster and Santa Clarita. “In fact, where older adults are concerned, a fall can have a spiraling effect on their overall quality of life during years typically set aside for much-deserved rest, relaxation and fun.” 

Unfortunately, though, falls are an epidemic among seniors in the U.S. 

According to the National Council on Aging, an older adult is treated for a fall in a U.S. emergency room every 11 seconds, making it the most common cause for nonfatal, trauma-related hospital admissions among this group. 

In addition, the average health care cost for each of these falls is approximately $35,000 per patient. 

“Older bodies are simply more susceptible to serious injury when falls occur,” Eckard said. “And, while there are some things seniors can do to keep their bonds strong and flexible enough to better absorb a fall, the best course of action is to just prevent falls from happening to begin with. This starts with improving balance.” 

Eckard points out that, like strength and cardiovascular conditioning, balance is something that can and should be improved through regular exercise. He suggests seniors try these five exercises to help improve their balance: 

Standing March: As the name says, march in place for up to 30 seconds, slowly raising and lowering your knees throughout. Vary the surface on which you march (i.e., hard floor to the back yard) for more of a challenge. 

Heel to Toe: Starting with both heels touching the wall, put one foot in front of the other so the heel touches the toes of the opposite foot. Repeat with the other foot, as if you’re walking a chalk line. Go for 20 steps each round. 

Weight Shifts: With your feet hip-width apart, shift your weight to one side, lifting your other foot off the floor just a few inches. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds, then shift and hold on the other leg. Increase reps per your ability. 

Single-Leg Balance: Starting with the same stance as above, now lift one leg from the floor, bending it back at the knee. Hold for up to 30 seconds, then do the same with the other leg. Increase reps as your balance improves. 

Group Classes: If you feel your balance is strong and you’ve mastered the above exercises, trying a group session that focuses on core strength and balance. Pilates is an example of such a class. 

“If you’re new to any of these exercises, help balance yourself initially by leaning on a table, chair back or wall for safety’s sake,” Eckard said. “Make these simple exercises part of your daily routine.” 

And, if you’re a senior or soon-to-be senior who doesn’t currently exercise regularly, it’s smart to start any new fall-prevention effort by first getting a balance assessment from a physical therapist, like those at Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy. Through a balance assessment, a physical therapist can determine your level of functional balance while pinpointing areas of concern that can be addressed through an individualized fall-prevention regimen. 

Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy, To Stretch or Not to Stretch? Tips to Optimize Flexibility

Many have grown up with the understanding that, whenever you’re about to work out, compete or otherwise push your body, it’s important to stretch immediately before the activity in order to prevent injury and perform your best. 

Yet, despite these long-held beliefs, Valencia physical therapist Tim Eckard says – perhaps surprisingly – that there’s little evidence to support this theory.  

“Today’s evidence suggests that there’s no connection between injury prevention and stretching – static, or reach-and-hold-type stretching – before a workout,” said Eckardco-owner and clinic director at Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy in Valencia, Lancaster and Santa Clarita. “Performance-wise, there’s also no consistent connection, with some studies even suggestions that stretching before an activity or competition can actually weaken performance.” 

For example, research released by Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism in 2011 found that the vertical jump heights of young and middle-aged men actually declined when participants stretched beforehand. In contrast, the same study found heights increased after warming up dynamically, or using dynamic stretching. 

What is Dynamic Stretching?

“Dynamic stretches can best be described as a lower-intensity version of the exercises and movements you plan to perform during your activities or while you’re competing,” Eckard said. “A light jog, some leg swings, lunges, high-knees, arm and shoulder rotations … all these movements can be part of a dynamic stretching routine, depending on the activity you’re about to do.” 

Such dynamic warm-ups help you break a sweat, sure, but it does so much more. According to Eckard, dynamic stretching ensures your muscles are well-supplied with oxygen, promoting optimal flexibility and efficiency. 

Dynamic stretching, however, can only optimize your current level of flexibility. Static stretching is still vital in maintaining and improving your body’s level of overall flexibility … just not right before an activity. 

So, when’s the ideal time to maintain and improve flexibility through static stretching? Eckard offers the following guidelines: 

Stretch Daily

 Just as you should try to get a certain amount of exercise in each day – both cardio and strength training – it’s also important to dedicate 10 to 15 minutes to daily static stretching. Typical static stretches are held for anywhere between 15 to 60 seconds at a time, with each movement repeated two or more times. 

Eckard suggests setting time aside for stretching either first-thing in the morning or just before going to bed. 

Stretch During Cool-Downs

Cooling down after an activity helps the body transition from a higher intensity to a resting or near-resting state. While slowed-down exercises (similar to those during dynamic warm-ups) may be included as part of a cool-down, this is also a great time for static stretching. 

As consistent tightness in the muscles and joints can put one more at risk of pain and injury, Eckard suggests those who regularly exercise or compete have an annual physical therapy exam. During a PT exam, weaknesses in flexibility, strength and movement can be identified and properly addressed before they manifest into injuries. 

Parents: Be Aware of the Signs of Sports Injuries

As student-athletes train over the summer, preparing to head back to the practice fields later this season, injuries are going to happen. Despite concerted efforts to reduce and prevent sports injuries, Valencia physical therapist Tim Eckard pointed out that it’s impossible to eliminate them from sports. 

In order to ensure injuries are diagnosed and treated quickly, before they worsen, Eckard said it’s paramount parents and guardians are able to quickly identify the signs of possible injury – ailments that aren’t always obvious during practice or competition, but which may manifest later on at home. 

“Whether it’s because they’re concerned about playing time or feel they can tough it out, student-athletes won’t always admit when they’re hurt or injured,” said Eckard, co-owner and clinic director of Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy in Valencia, Lancaster and Santa Clarita. “But even when a youth or teen is convinced it’s not that bad, that they can walk it off, etc., he or she could still be doing themselves harm by not getting treatment as soon as possible.” 

This is when it’s important for a parent or guardian to get involved, he said. 

“By just knowing some of the obvious signs that a young athlete isn’t just sore but is actually injured, parents can play an active role in ensuring injuries are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, preventing further damage from occurring,” said Eckard. 

Signs to watch out for include: 

  • Headaches, lightheadedness or dizziness, which may indicate a concussion. 
  • Limping or an appearance of pain when putting weight on and/or using a particular part of the body. 
  • Difficulty standing, sitting, stepping or moving around normally. 
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness in the limbs, fingers or toes. 
  • Difficulty sleeping. 
  • Sharp pain during practice, games or any physical activity. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 30 million children and adolescents in the U.S. participate in youth sports. Just the high school-aged students within this group account for around 2 million injuries and 500,000 doctor visits each year. Of those under 14, 3.5 million receive medical treatment for sports injuries. 

“‘No pain, no gain’ doesn’t apply to youth sports, and there should be no such thing as ‘toughing it out,’” Eckard said. “If your child or teen is showing any of these signs, it’s important you get them evaluated as soon as you can.” 

In many cases, visiting a physical therapist can be an ideal starting point for such evaluations. Trained to provide sports injury assessments for athletes of all ages, physical therapists like those on the Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy team will triage the injury and, if necessary, provide direction if further diagnosis and treatment is necessary.   

6 Common Summer Activity Mistakes, with Solutions

For many, summer is defined by a whirlwind of outdoor activity, a natural response to warmer, brighter and warmer days. 

But as we venture out into the sun for yard work, bike rides, morning jogs, long hikes and swimming at the beach, Valencia physical therapist Tim Eckard warns people to avoid common summer exercise mistakes that can put them at risk of injury. 

“We all get excited when the weather allows us to get outside in the fresh air to do the things we love to do, but this excitement shouldn’t cause us to overlook precautions we should be taking to ensure we stay safe and free of injury,” said EckardCo-Owner of Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy in Valencia, Lancaster and Santa Clarita. 

Some of these considerations take the heat into account, while others are simply good practices that often get overlooked during this time of year. Either way, Eckard offers solutions for overcoming the following mistakes people often make when engaging in outdoor activities (including exercise) during the summer months. 

Pushing Too Hard, Too Fast: The warmth and sunshine of summer may get your adrenaline going, but don’t take that as permission to overdo your workouts. Abide by the 10 percent rule, which dictates you should ramp up your duration and distances no more than 10 percent per week. And, be sure to give your body plenty of rest and recovery time to prevent potential injury. 

Not Warming Up Properly: Don’t assume the warm weather means your body’s already warm and ready to go. A thorough warm-up is essential before any exercise or activity, despite the temperature outside. It primes the nervous system for exercise so your body’s ready to work efficiently. A simple warm-up can include some brisk walking, light jogging, lunges, arm circles, etc. 

Dehydration: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start hydrating. Dehydration came come on quickly when the weather’s hot, so get used to carrying around a water bottle, and always drink water before, during and after all workouts, regardless of intensity. 

Wearing Improper Footwear: You may walk around in sandals or flip-flops most of the summer, but trade them for a quality, supportive pair of shoes prior to working out. This is a no-brainer when going for a run or competing in a sport, but don’t overlook the importance of proper footwear when going for a walk, working in the yard, etc.  

Forgetting Sunscreen: Using a high-SPF sunscreen is critical in the long-term prevention of certain types of skin cancers. In the short term, it protects against sunburn, which could hinder your ability to fully enjoy the outdoors by making movement painful. Also, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and sunglasses with UV protection. 

Ignoring Pain & Injury: If you feel some discomfort, pain or a possible injury, stop what you’re doing. Summer’s typically a time when you want to pack as much activity as you can into a weekend, but don’t do this as the expense of a long-term injury or health issue that, if untreated, can put a damper on the rest of the season. 

“If you feel, say, discomfort in your lower back or a sudden or nagging ache in your muscles or joints, it’s best to stop and get that checked out by a physical therapist as soon as you can,” Eckard said. “A PT will assess the pain, determine its cause, and offer a strategy for getting you back to what you love doing in the summertime.”  

Valencia Wellness: Tips for Preventing Painful Shin Splints this Running Season

The longer days and warmer weather of spring can be invigorating, enticing runners of all levels to up their games. But while this time of year may motivate one to increase the duration, frequency and intensity of their runs, Valencia physical therapist Tim Eckard cautions that if the increase is too sudden, it could put the runner at the risk of a painful condition known as shin splints. 

“Shin splints isn’t a serious condition, but it can be painful and will most certainly hold runners and other active people back from their workout, and perhaps even other things they enjoy in life,” said Eckardco-owner and clinic director of Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy in Valencia, Lancaster and Santa Clarita. 

Known in the medical world as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints present as soreness, tenderness and pain along the inside of the shin bone (tibia). At first, the pain may only be felt during a run or workout, Eckard said, but the condition may progress to the point where pain may be felt well after exercise. 

With about 3 million reported cases per year in the U.S., shin splints account for 13 to 17 percent of all running-related injuries. Dancers and military recruits also record a high incidence of shin splints. 

“People who take part in activities that involve high-impact stress on the legs are most susceptible to developing shin splints, especially during a time when the intensity of their exercise has suddenly increased,” said Eckard. “This increased stress can overwork the muscles, tendons and bone tissue in the lower leg, which can manifest as pain.” 

The key to overcoming shin splints, according to Eckard, is to rest. Take a few recovery days off from high-impact activities and exercises, and allow the body to heal. If you experience inflammation, ice can also be beneficial. 

However, it’s important, Eckard added, that runners and others susceptible to shin splints take steps to prevent the onset of the condition. Consider the following tips: 

Avoid overdoing it. When increasing the distance, duration, intensity and/or frequency of an exercise regimen such as running, do so gradually. Slowly building your fitness level over time is safer on the body than making quick, monumental leaps that can overload your shins. 

Wear proper shoes. Not only should you always wear a good pair of shoes, but the type of shoes you wear should fit your foot type. The right shoe for someone who’s flat-footed, for instance, won’t be right for someone with high arches, and vice versa. Also, wear the right type of shoes for your chosen activity or sport. 

Mix up your workouts. We all have our preferred ways of exercising, but mix it up once in a while. Alternate running with, say, cycling or swimming – something that still challenges you but with less impact on the body. 

Analyze your movement. A thorough, biomechanical running analysis performed by a physical therapist can identify movement patterns that may be leading to the onset of shin splints. You may find out that one small tweak in your running form can keep your shins healthy and pain-free. 

See a physical therapist. Besides performing a running analysis, a physical therapist is trained to analyze your entire kinetic chain to identify any imbalances or weaknesses that could put you at risk of pain or injury. From advising you on what shoes to wear to creating a personalized exercise regimen to help you move and perform better, teaming up with a physical therapist is an ideal step for those serious about pain and injury prevention. 

Valencia PT Offers Tips to Keep the Weekend Warrior Healthy, Injury Free

A “weekend warrior” is someone who, due to the hectic nature of a typical workweek, opts to cram most of her or his exercise into weekend workouts, activities, games and/or competitions.

And while Valencia physical therapist Tim Eckard says he’ll never fault anyone for getting exercise, he added that weekend warriors should be particularly cautious as the sporadic nature of their workout schedule puts them at a greater risk of getting injured.

“Days of downtime followed by sudden bursts of activity over a day or two isn’t ideal,” said Eckard, co-owner of Kinetix Advanced Physical Therapy in Valencia, Lancaster and Santa Clarita. “By putting greater stress on the body over a shorter period of time, weekend warriors should be aware that they’re putting themselves at greater risk of acute injuries, such as strains, sprains or worse.”

That’s because inactivity throughout the week can lead to a general deconditioning of the body that may include muscle tightness and imbalances, along with reduced endurance and cardiovascular fitness. A more consistent workout schedule can combat such deconditioning, Eckard says.

But if one truly does struggle to find time to achieve their expert-recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week without cramming them into just a couple of days, Eckard offers the following tips for avoiding injury.

Space It Out – Rather than packing your weekly exercise minutes into two back-to-back days at the end of the week, consider spacing these days out. This can help you avoid some of the deconditioning effects mentioned above.

Warm Up, Cool Down – When the weekend arrives and it comes time to take the field, hit the trails or tee off for 18, always warm up first. Take 5 to 10 minutes for some light resistance and cardio exercises to get the blood flowing. And after you’re done, cool down with some stretching. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout.

Temper Your Intensity – When you’re packing your workouts into just a couple days a week, don’t overdo it. As you’re not exercising as consistently, stay on the safe side by pulling back slightly on your intensity.

Mix It Up – Try not to fill your weekends with the same activities. Mix it up, perhaps focusing on cardio one weekend and strength another – or a variation thereof. This helps ensure your entire body remains balanced, reducing your chances of injury.

Stay Active During the Week – Even if you don’t have time to hit the gym during the week, don’t use that as an excuse to be completely sedentary. Capitalize on brief moments during the week to move around, stretch, and maybe even do some exercising. Take the stairs, stretch during your breaks, stand at your desk, walk during meetings or after work, and maybe even fit 10 minutes of at-home resistance training into your evenings.

Listen to Your Body – Always know your limits. And, if you feel aches and pains or suspect possible injury, stop exercising immediately and see a medical professional, such as a physical therapist. Don’t try to power through discomfort just so you can get through the weekend.