Bettendorf Magazine: Move It Or Lose It: How To Rebuild Your Strength This Summer | Exclusive

Macey Spensley

Whether you’ve spent many winters in the Midwest or this is your first time experiencing snowfall, we can all agree on one thing: out in the freezing, chill-inducing cold, it’s not is not a fun place.

We lose access to many of our favorite outdoor activities once the sun begins to set earlier and temperatures begin to drop. An eighteen-hole golf course is relegated to swing practice in the basement, the baseball glove is tossed into the shed, and we trade the tracks for treadmills.

When spring returns and we feel the sun on our skin again, we cannot get back to the same level of activity we had before we started our hibernation period. We need to take care of our body and rebuild our strength.

We spoke with ORA Orthopedic Sports Medicine Physician Dr. JC Clark about safe exercise this spring and compiled a list of places around Bettendorf to help you reach your goals.

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“The thing that actually worries me the most with winters in the Midwest is that we’re getting less sun. Our calcium and vitamin D levels may actually go down,” Dr. Clark said. So many of us who arrive in late February, March, or even April have lower bone mineral density, lower calcium and vitamin D levels.”

Dr. Clark

Greg Bol

Dr. Clark recommended replenishing nutrients you may lose during the winter by making sure your diet contains enough vitamin D and calcium. For over-the-counter supplements, he suggested glucosamine chondroitin, turmeric, or tart cherry juice.

One of the best sources of vitamins is free to all of us: sunlight. When we get one of those gorgeous spring days with cloudless skies and abundant sunshine, be sure to get out there and soak up some of those nutrients. The Middle Park disc golf course is an easy form of exercise in a beautiful outdoor environment. If you’re looking for something a little more intense, the Genesis HealthBeat Outdoor Fitness System on Duck Creek Parkway Trail has nine stations suitable for all fitness levels.

Slowly reintroduce stress

“Every time we train, we break down tissue, whether it’s muscle when we lift weights or possibly bone when we do weight-bearing exercises. It’s that time off, that recovery process, where our muscles and bones are repaired and regenerated,” Dr. Clark said. “If we put too much load or stress on the muscles or the bones without giving the necessary time to recover, that’s where you get overuse injuries such as stress fractures.”

A gradual increase in workload is important when your body is not used to intense training. You run the risk of hurting yourself and injuring yourself if you accelerate too quickly. Whether you started exercising from scratch or want to get back into it after a break, you don’t want to push the intensity harder than your body can handle.

A great strategy to avoid injury is to follow an established program or work with a professional. For example, members of the YMCA of the Iowa Mississippi Valley have access to their eGym equipment at the Utica Ridge and Bettendorf locations. You first set up a program with a trainer to establish your level of experience and your goals. When you’re ready to start your workout, each machine tells you how many reps you need to do, what weight you need to use, and the intensity of the exercise. This ensures a safe and progressive overload that strengthens your muscles and protects your bones.


Gym members learn to use eGym equipment at the YMCA of the Valley in Iowa Mississippi.

Start your cardio journey indoors

A telltale sign of the arrival of spring in Iowa is seeing more and more people walking, running, and biking outside. Who doesn’t love doing cardio outdoors?

Don’t give up on the treadmill too quickly. With Bettendorf located right next to the Mississippi River, there is plenty of hilly terrain in our area. Attempting more challenging trails before you’re ready can also turn your sedentary winter into a sedentary summer.

Dr. Clark explained how our bodies experience the stress of walking and running:

“Every time you take a step, there’s a ground reaction force going up your lower limb. Some of this force is absorbed by your bones, but also some of this force is absorbed by your muscles. To ensure that each step does not put too much strain on your bones, you must first increase your muscle strength.

If you’ve never been a big runner, consider hopping on an exercise bike or elliptical at places like Bettendorf Life Fitness Center for some low-impact cardio. Once your body has acclimated to this level of aerobic exercise, try walking, then running, on their 1/8 mile indoor track.

When you’ve practiced enough indoors, you can venture out into the sun. Bettendorf has 16 miles of separate trails and 13 miles of recreational trails. Investing in these trails, along with 7 miles of bike paths, Bettendorf is listed in the friendly community of the League of American Cyclists. View the Bettendorf trail network map at

Also prepare your upper body

We start to see a lot more activity in the warmer months which uses the upper body. Don’t overlook these extremities when strengthening your body in preparation.

“With any type of racquet, club, or bat-type sport, I would recommend using something called a Theraband to do exercises to strengthen your rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is a very important set of muscles that stabilizes the shoulder joint,” Dr. Clark said. “I would also incorporate exercises to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, such as the obliques.”


Yoga in the Park hosted by Moline Parks and Recreation with yoga instructor Daina Marie Lewis at Peterson Park in Moline on Saturday, July 17, 2021.

Jessica Gallagher

Yoga can help strengthen your upper body in a relaxing way without putting a ton of stress on your muscles and bones. Try a class at Tapas Hot Yoga, Hotworx or Bettendorf School of Yoga. The improved flexibility will also help you recover after strenuous exercise.

LFC pickleball game on the field 2.jpg

Life Fitness Center in Bettendorf hosts several pickleball games.

If you haven’t started a racquet or club sport yet but would like to try it out, the Bettendorf Life Fitness Center hosts daily pickleball matches as well as tournaments and pickleball nights throughout the year. Or you can visit a Bettendorf golf course, like Palmer Hills or Hidden Hills, for an easy and fun way to get around.

Dr. Clark’s biggest tip? Never stop moving.

“If you don’t move it, you’re going to lose it,” he said. “Movement is a lotion.” The “lotion” he refers to is the synovial fluid in our joints. This lubricant is produced every time you move your joints.

If you don’t have some type of condition that prevents you from exercising, this will help keep you strong and mobile to find some sort of indoor activity during the winter. Find a local fitness class at a Bettendorf gym, search for free exercise videos on YouTube, or jump into the pool at the YMCA. Figure out what type of exercise you enjoy the most and keep moving all year round.