Time to Get Back to Exercising: How to Start Working Out Again
The new year is a time for resolutions and many people put physical activity at the top of their list of goals. The holiday season often disrupts regular routines, causing many busy people to put their health and wellness on the backburner. Falling out of a regular fitness routine can make getting back into the gym difficult.
Not only are there physical challenges to overcome with getting back into working out, but there can also be emotional and mental hurdles to defeat, as fitness can bring up confidence and self-esteem issues. If you’ve been sidelined by an injury like back pain or neck pain, then getting back into exercising requires caution and taking your time to prevent it from recurring.
If you’re wondering how to start working out again after taking a break, you need to know the right things to focus on to gradually build up to your desired fitness level. Follow these top tips for starting exercising again safely and effectively, helping you to achieve your ultimate fitness goals.
1. Get Started Slowly
Getting back into the gym can be a struggle both physically and mentally. Starting slowly can help you build momentum and work at a pace that’s sustainable. You don’t want to overdo it. Going too hard, too often and for too long could put you at risk of injury. This is especially true of the risk for re-injury if you’ve suffered a previous one.
Your back-to-exercise routine might be a lot less than where you were at before you took time off. If you were working out 4-5 days per week or more, you may need to scale that back to once every three days or less. If you want to stay active daily, then reduce the intensity and duration of your workouts.
While all exercise routines and activities are different, a rule of thumb is to get back into working out at 20 percent of what your highest intensity was previously. If you stopped exercising due to an injury or illness, be sure to get the okay from your physician before getting started.
2. Set Fitness Goals
There are lots of different ways to set goals, depending on the results you’re looking to achieve. If your struggle has been to stay in a routine and commit to the gym or another form of workout, then you might consider setting a “process goal”. Conventionally, a goal has an end-point—a certain weight, time or distance metric you can reach. But process goals focus on the day-in-day-out habit development.
An example of a process goal would be to go to the gym three times per week for 30 mins. This is a process you can follow without a particular end-goal in mind, but it helps you build the initial habit required to reach an end-goal eventually.
Again, if you’re getting back to exercise after an injury or illness, make sure you review your exercise goals with a physician or healthcare professional. You may have high hopes for your new regimen, but your doctor might feel otherwise based on your current health level.
3. Create an Exercise Schedule
Schedules hold you accountable to your goals. If you don’t schedule exercise, it won’t get done because the brain is conditioned to look for the path of least resistance. So, to make things easier on yourself and have a greater chance of reaching your goals, make your schedule something consistent and easy to follow.
For example, your schedule might tell you that on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays you go for a run between 6 and 7 pm. Or you go to the gym from 6:45 to 7:30 am every day before work. Within your blocked out exercise times, you might also schedule different types of physical activities or workouts.
Having an exercise schedule will help you stay on track. Without a schedule, you’ll be inclined to go whenever you feel like it. It’s important to treat exercise as a commitment to yourself, like any other appointment you’d keep.
4. Monitor Your Progress
Monitoring your fitness progress can prevent you from breaking your habit. If you keep track of how well you’re doing and the results you’re getting, you’ll be more inclined to keep going to prevent undoing all you’ve achieved.
There are tons of habit-tracking apps and programs available. Some of them are free and some of them are paid but with lots of other features. Monitoring your progress can be as simple as filling in a chart or calendar. Whatever system you choose, make sure you use it to your advantage to help remind you of how far you’ve come.
5. Get an Accountability Buddy
When we fall out of an exercise habit, it can be surprisingly difficult to return to it. Developing an exercise plan is one thing, but sticking to it over the long-term is another issue. Because we’ve all had experiences of giving up on new year’s resolutions, many of us feel defeated before we even begin.
That’s where an accountability buddy can be very beneficial. An accountability buddy is someone you can attend exercise classes and sessions with. Or, an accountability buddy is someone to whom you can report your progress as a way to hold yourself accountable. Vice versa, you’d also be helping your buddy develop self-accountability.
6. Work With Fitness Experts
Depending on your fitness level previously as well as how long you’ve been on pause with exercise, you might consider working with a trainer. Professional trainers and fitness experts work with countless different bodies at ranging fitness levels. They’ll work with you to develop an exercise plan that’s right for you based on your past experiences, previous injuries and current fitness level. Combining these factors, they’ll get you on the path towards achieving your goals.
Strength trainers and running coaches are just two examples of fitness professionals you can go to for help. Kinesiologists, physical therapists and sports therapists are other specialized care providers who can recommend strength training and fitness plans for how to start working out again safely.
Similar to an accountability buddy, a professional trainer is a great way to commit to exercise. A trainer will also help you maintain an exercise pace that’s consistent. They can help you get results but prevent you from pushing yourself beyond your current level.
7. Make Time for Rest and Recovery
Proper rest and recovery is a critical, but commonly overlooked aspect of fitness. One of the reasons for starting slow is to prevent overdoing it and risking an injury that will set you back even further. Scheduling rest and recovery alongside your workout sessions will keep you progressing sustainably towards your goals.
Rest and recovery periods give you an opportunity to learn about your body, feel what’s going on and notice if anything needs attention. Keeping track of pains, aches and any other issues in a fitness diary can help you pinpoint the cause of the issue, allowing you to alter your routine accordingly.
When it comes to an exercise routine, it’s important to remain flexible. Not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well. Your body is different from one day to the next and it’s important to honor this about yourself. You might have a certain workout scheduled, but your body may have other needs, and it’s wise to listen.
Exercise and Therapy Support From Relax The Back
As you start the new year with a new exercise routine, make sure you have all the right tools to build your strength and enjoy yourself in a safe and healthy way. Stretching and tissue massage are two essential wellness practices that complement strength and endurance training.
Stretching and massage have many benefits. A regular stretch routine can help increase and maintain mobility and flexibility, reducing the risk of injuries like sprains and strains. Massage can help loosen tight connective tissues covering muscles. Both stretching and massage boost blood, oxygen and nutrient flow to joints and muscles, helping them to repair faster after working out.
To help you maintain balance and mobility and prevent injury, try the following fitness support products from Relax The Back:
Exercise and Therapy Foam Rollers: Give hard-working muscles a massage using exercise and therapy foam rollers to help relax tight muscles and tissues. Foam rollers come in different shapes and sizes, giving you full control over your self-massage. Use on tight legs, back and arms to prevent exercise injuries.
Theratouch Pro Massager With Heat: Combine heat therapy with massage using the Theratouch Pro Massager With Heat. This adjustable handheld massaging device can be used wherever tight muscles strike. Use it regularly after intense workouts to maintain healthy muscles and joints.
CoreStretch: While stretching is an essential component of fitness, it’s important to do it safely to prevent muscle tears. The CoreStretch device gives you more control over your stretching. Safely loosen tight shoulders, hips and hamstrings using the CoreStretch after every workout.
Relax The Back’s collection of fitness & therapy and massage products can help you reap the benefits of a well-rounded exercise routine and enhance your overall wellbeing. Get back into working out safely and confidently this January by developing the right fitness and recovery routine for you.