A woman riding a bike down a road in the fall.
August 18, 2016 | by The Polyclinic

Are the Rio Olympics inspiring you to exercise and get in shape? Try these tips from Polyclinic doctors to add in a new sport and pursue the ultimate medal -- good health and fitness.


Braden Nago MD – Neurologist

Dr. Braden Nago turned to running as a way to stay in shape after playing baseball in college. He started with five mile runs but now competes in marathons.

How to Avoid Burnout and Injury from Running

  • Increase mileage slowly. Increase your weekly mileage each week by one mile.
  • Don’t over-stride. Land with your knees slightly bent. Proper running form puts less pressure on your knees and hips.
  • Wear proper running shoes. Visit a local running store to get fitted for a shoe based on your stride and arch. Invest in a new pair every 300 miles. Many stores will even recycle or donate your old pair to charity
  • Sign up for a race. A goal increases motivation and keeps your training focused. From 5ks to marathons, the Pacific Northwest offers many race options.
  • Add in cross-training. Cross-training can balance mileage and help prevent injuries. Dr. Nago logs 60 minutes of elliptical or stationary bike work on weekdays.

“Running has so many health benefits -- improved sleep and energy, stress relief and most importantly weight management,” he said. The best part? “Being the fast dad on the field when I play with my kids!”


Noel Howes ARNP – Behavioral Health

After Noel Howes broke his ankle, he needed a sport other than running. He got into biking and has been pedaling to new destinations ever since, logging upwards of 250 miles a week. Some of his longest races include the Paris Brest Paris, a 760-mile bike ride.

He doesn’t expect most folks to get into long distance cycling, but he encourages trying a local bike ride with friends or biking to work. Noel gets in a workout and saves gas money when he logs 12 miles roundtrip daily on his commute to The Polyclinic Madison Center.

Noel endorses biking for its ease on joints and ease in exploring the outdoors. “There is a level of connectedness I feel when biking. You see all kinds of weather, people and scenery that you don’t get to experience in the cocoon of a car.”


Jeffrey Bernstein MD – Vascular Surgery

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein has been a competitive swimmer since he was a child. He even swam on Stanford University’s swim team before focusing exclusively on premed studies. Now a busy vascular surgeon, he schedules weekly swims and incorporates cycling, calisthenics and walking.

Plan a Smart Swim Workout

  • Aim for 30 minutes to burn between 300-450 calories.
  • Mix in speed and distance.
  • Learn about proper stroke technique. “I’ve seen too many people just grinding out lap after lap with poor technique,” he said. “You can overuse your body which can lead to injuries.”

Swimming provides multiple health benefits including cardiovascular endurance, muscular conditioning and joint flexibility. “Just getting into the pool is relaxing in itself and committing to a swimming routine can really make strides to your health and fitness.”