Have life circumstances been preventing you from consistently exercising? It might be ok for the short term, but eventually your body reminds you of the importance of exercise. Chronically sore muscles, weight gain, fatigue and even depression can be caused or aggravated by a lack of healthy mobility.
If you are telling yourself you’ll start again when things are less stressful, you are missing out on the stress and anxiety reducing benefits of a consistent exercise regime. Muscle and joint injuries may be happening more frequently due to lack of use.
If you are ready to get back on a good exercise plan, that’s great. Just remember, if you are starting after a long break, you need to approach your resolution safely and realistically. Here are some important steps for getting back into shape.
Check in for a check-up
It’s important to see your doctor before starting any new exercise routines. Your sedentary life up until now may have caused some unseen forces, like cholesterol and high blood pressure, to sneak up on you. You want to be aware of these risk factors so that you don’t overdo things. It’s one thing to pull a muscle, but quite another to strain your heart.
Make a date
Do you write in your workouts on your calendar? If not, that may be why you’ve stopped them. Exercise needs to take priority in your life, and one way to do that is to book it on your daily schedule, and hold that time as sacred as any other commitment you have. As you make your schedule, you’ll want to decide the types of exercise you’ll do in each day, like lifting weights, or a spin class. Be as specific as possible – it makes it tougher to ignore.
After workouts, write down what you achieved, even if it’s one minute of cardio. You’ll look back some day and be impressed at your efforts, but tracking also helps you learn things like the best time of day for exercise or what exercises you think work best for you. Once you have achieved a consistent routine for several weeks, start increasing the time and intensity of your workouts. Write these goals several weeks ahead, again, so you treat them the same as any other appointment.
A big mistake you can make is to go big. You have to integrate exercise into your daily activities until it’s as routine as your morning coffee. There are some great apps for your mobile devices that start you with five minutes of exercise. You can pick the intensity, and increase your time and pace on a schedule. Your body, if it’s otherwise healthy, will respond quickly to the new routines, and you’ll be ready for that 10K in no time.
Take care of your body
Any new exercise routine can be a risk factor for injury. One great way to protect your body is to wear compression clothing, which supports and sculpts your body. For example, if you start doing crunches, you may feel some back strain. Using a TommieCopper core band from Tommie Copper can help your back recover quickly and safely. Other gear such as good walking shoes, gloves for weightlifting, and plenty of water bottles will also keep you feeling great.
Incorporate stretching into every workout, especially as you rebuild your stamina and strength. Again, apps can be a great help in finding effective stretches that don’t take a ton of time. Yoga is a fantastic way to combine both stretching and strength training. Another way to both protect your health and get more from your new exercise program is to combine it with healthy choices in food, and get plenty of sleep.
Get some support
If you can find someone who will exercise with you at least part of the time, you are far more likely to stick with your exercise plan. You can ask someone else starting from scratch, and encourage each other to keep at it. Just remember, the bad habits that got you here also got your workout buddy where she is, so don’t give in when one of you wants to bail.
It’s not a bad idea to ask someone who is devout about exercise to keep you accountable. This could be a personal trainer, people you meet in a class, or a friend who you know who works out religiously. Ask if you can report your progress on a weekly basis.
Getting in shape is possible for even the most sedentary person. Set some goals, and then follow through with tangible ways to keep yourself accountable. The energy and fitness you’ll gain are worth it.