10 Tips for Getting Back into a Fitness Routine
If you’ve fallen out of your normal fitness routine the last few months, you’re not alone. This happens regularly, even outside of a pandemic. It can be daunting to get back to exercise, so we’ve rounded up 10 tips from our personal training team to help you get back into the swing of things.
You won’t be able to pick up right where you left off, so make sure you ease back into things. “Don’t try to make up for lost time by overdoing the intensity right out of the gate,” says John Shafer. Doing so could result in injury or burning out quickly. Neal Kopasek suggests starting with half the amount of reps as before, or less resistance, and a lesser exertion level for cardio. Stay consistent and you’ll be back to your previous level sooner than you think!
2. Set a Schedule
This is a common tactic used by those who exercise regularly. Schedule it like a meeting on your calendar, as Margreta Rempert suggests, and you’ll be less likely to skip out on your workout. You can also pick one or two days of the week where you exercise in some way, no matter what. Andy Groce calls it “Sweat on Sunday,” as the weekends are when most people fall out of a routine, making Monday even more difficult. Doing just 15 or 20 minutes of movement on Sunday will keep your mind and body in motion.
3. Set Realistic Goals
It’s important that you set a goal that will take some effort to achieve, but is actually do-able considering your abilities and time constraints. “Make sure it’s extremely reasonable for you, otherwise you’ll just end up feeling like you failed,” says Jonathan Slater. For example, Jeff Urban recommends committing to get to the gym twice per week for the first month, rather than aiming for four to five times per week. Once you are consistently working out twice per week, add another day. “If you make sure you have reasonable expectations, you will be quicker to adapt to changes without guilt or shame and keep rolling with your fitness journey,” says Ellen Berry.
4. Recognize Potential Setbacks
Too often, life gets in the way of our workouts and we prioritize other areas above exercise. If you plan ahead of time, though, you can recognize and eliminate some things that might prevent you from getting back in a consistent routine. Abby Johnston recommends packing your gym bag the night before and spending some time to prep a healthy meal or snack if you go to the gym after work. Do you have a hard time waking up for morning workouts? Sleep in your gym clothes. Do you plan to workout but lose motivation before the end of the day? Sign yourself up for a class so you’re committed.
5. Try Walking
So many of us turned to outdoor walks this spring when we had limited options for workouts, but walking is great any time of year! An easy-paced walk is a great way to get moving again, says Katie Woodside Annaballi. You can start with 10 minutes of walking and build up to 30 minutes. According to Teresa Harris, this stimulates blood flow and will actually help build stamina so you can add other exercises along the way.
6. Don’t Forget to Stretch
Your muscles will likely be sore after a workout since they are not accustomed to the activity. Don’t skip your warm up or cool down, as they are important for helping prevent injury. As Shelly Miller says, “You want to fix your body, not break it!”
7. Fuel Your Body Properly
With added activity, you may notice that you’re hungrier. Be sure to adjust your diet accordingly to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs. Registered Dietitian Margaret Moses recommends making sure you consume enough carbohydrates, as they are your main source of energy, and protein to help repair any damage to muscles.
8. Do Things You Enjoy
You may find that workouts you previously enjoyed just don’t cut it anymore, and that’s ok. Find what works for you and you may discover something new that you love and actually look forward to. As Leigh McCready says, it’s easier to stay motivated and stick to a routine when it involves something you like!
9. Stay Accountable
This is important whether you’re just getting back into a fitness routine, or you’ve been in it for years. Staying accountable keeps us on track and less likely to fall off again. Find a friend to exercise with, post your goals on your fridge, or physically put a mark on a calendar on the days you complete a workout. Caroline Bandura says, “What helped me was buckling down and buying a pack of training sessions with one of my coworkers. I had been in a funk during quarantine and, even despite my chosen profession, I was having a hard time getting back into the habit. Making that financial investment in myself is what got me back to loving exercise.”
Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements! Whether you want to run a mile on the treadmill, squat a certain amount of weight, or just walk the block once per day, take the time to recognize your success. Remind yourself of where you started and how far you’ve come since. Then, set yourself a new goal!
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