It's time to spring into action

It's time to spring into action

After a month and a half of Spring Training baseball, the faithful feel they have a pretty good idea of how their favorite team is going to stack up against the opposition. Any offseason acquisitions or up-and-coming youngsters have had the opportunity to demonstrate how they'll fit in.

With the evaluations complete, Terry Francona and his managerial colleagues have settled on rosters, determined their pitching rotations and set a batting order. The short-term goal is to put the best possible team on the field every game. The longer-term aim is to get the most out of players on a consistent basis and thereby maximize the chances of achieving the ultimate goal, which around here is a World Series title.

If Francona wants some advice on his lineup, there are a few thousand Sox fans who are more than willing to offer some. But with everybody starting fresh, and hope springing eternal, now is as good a time as any to do a personal roster assessment and line up a strategy for our own long-term goals -- like being healthy enough to hang around for a while and watch the Sox win a few more championships.

With that in mind, I turned to Kathy Shillue, a physical therapist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and asked her to toss a few helpful tips our way. Remember, this is not an order, it's a list of suggestions.

Leading off -- Make a decision to do something. Just take that first step. And in this case, a walk is as good as any other exercise.

Next up -- Choose an activity you like to do. Swimming is great exercise, but if you don't like getting your hair wet, it doesn't make much sense to pick that as your exercise. Do you like to dance? Play tennis? Practice yoga? Do what you like and you'll do it more often.

Moving those tips along -- Enlist a friend. It's not easy going it alone. Starting an exercise program with someone you enjoy spending time with might help you stick with it and will likely be more fun. You can encourage each other when you need that little push.

In the cleanup spot -- Set realistic goals. You are not going to be Mr. America, nor have that bikini body in six weeks. Don't swing for the fences. Start slowly and increase gradually. Whether you're walking, running or lifting weights, don't shoot for more than a 10 percent weekly increase in intensity.

Keeping it going -- Schedule a consistent routine. Integrate your fitness routine into your day. Carve out the time and stick to your schedule. Make it one of your priorities rather than something you'll get around to "at the end of the day."

Driving home a point -- Cross train. While the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, it's important to incorporate some resistive exercise as well to maintain bone density. If you find weight lifting intimidating, know that push-ups are as good as bench presses and lunges, squats and sit-ups can all be done at home without equipment.

Rounding the bases -- Eat healthy. Exercise is an important part of a fitness program, but you need to be aware of your diet as well. A well-balanced diet that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables minimizes saturated fats and avoids excessive sugar and processed food will help you lose fat and build muscle.

Keep swinging -- Expect some soreness. If you ask your muscles to work harder than they have in the past, they are going to have something to say about that. The soreness will usually subside in a couple of days. A good warm-up and a cool-down will help to minimize any post-exercise discomfort. A gradual increase in intensity will also help you avoid injury.

Heading home -- Get a good night's sleep. Every body needs to rest and recuperate between workouts, and your mental fitness improves with a good night's sleep as well.

So there's your lineup. Don't expect to bat 1.000 right out of the gate. Do expect that you'll face a few curveballs along the way. The important thing is to step up and get in the swing of things.

Gary Gillis is a contributor to MLB.com. The BID Injury Report is a regular column on redsox.com. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is the official hospital of The Boston Red Sox. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.