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Get Healthy and Fit Like a Champion

Get some summertime health and fitness tips from three Olympic medal winners and their coach.
WebMD Feature

Yippee, it's summer! Weekends filled with tennis, volleyball, surfing -- and all-around fun! And if you're like most folks, you just can't wait to get your sports gear out of mothballs and your butt off the couch!

But before you jump feet first into an activity-packed season, take your cues from some top medal-winning Olympic athletes. The 2004 USA Summer Olympic beach volleyball medalists Kerri Walsh (gold), Elaine Youngs (bronze), and Holly McPeak (bronze) -- and their coach, Dane Selznick -- spoke to WebMD about their secrets for having a safe, healthy, and fantastically fit summer!

While most of us can't wait to hit the ground running the minute summer is in the air, Selznick says the most important fitness tip he can give is to remind summer athletes to take their re-entry slow and easy. This, he says, is particularly true if you want to avoid injury.

"One of the things I see happen time and again is folks trying to make up for a season or a period of inactivity by going at it too hard when the activity begins," says Selznick, who was recently nominated for the United States Olympic Committee National Coach of the Year award.

Workout Advice -- Olympic Style

What we often don't realize, Selznick says, is that the body can't play "catch up." And the longer we've been out of the fitness loop, the more caution we have to take.

"You not only have to take special care to warm up before you begin the activity itself, but you also have to put a limit on how long you participate, particularly the first few times out on the field, the sand, or the court," says Selznick, who has personally trained more than 160 international sports professionals including 25 Olympians.

As Selznick explains, when fatigue comes into play, you reduce the body's ability to withstand impact. And this, he says, sets the stage for injury.

Olympic gold medal winner Kerri Walsh agrees. "Even being less active for a month can make a difference. If you haven't been physically active for a few months or more you have to be prepared to experience some fatigue -- maybe sooner than you realize," says Walsh.

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