Ways to start exercising again after a break

For motivation when you feel like quitting, work out with friends. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • If you have taken a break from your regular workout routine, these tips will make it easy to start again.

Fitness and achieving your weight loss goals is not a one-time attempt. It requires one to adopt a lifestyle and a daily routine in order to hit their target. There might have been a time when working out was a part of your routine but then, the sweat dripping sessions somehow stopped because of family responsibilities or maybe a new job. Getting back to workouts after a break may feel hard but it is possible.

The first step is for you to feel the desire, do a little planning and have patience. According to Dr Godfrey Basoita, a physiotherapist at Mulago National Referral Hospital, you ought to follow some rules and ease your way back into your fitness plan. While you work out again, it is important that you listen to your body and do not strain it. 

“It is tempting to want to start from where you left off. However, this is dangerous since you have not prepared the body for the hard and vigorous exercises. It is, therefore, important that you are conscious about the intensity of the exercises you engage in as you start again,” he says.

Dr Basoita recommends taking it slow at the beginning because trying to do too much right away can put stress on the muscles, which increases your risk of injury. 

“If you have muscle pains and find trouble walking the next day, it is a sign that you overworked the body. You then need to slow down and start at a lower intensity while building your endurance until the body is used again,” he says.

While getting back on track, remember to exercise for shorter durations until your body adjusts. Exercising for a longer time right away will cause burnout and fatigue.

Engage in graded exercises, starting with mild, moderate and then intense exercises with time. Start with flexibility and mobility workouts in order to increase blood flow and circulation. Such workouts also improve joint mobility while decreasing your chance of injury. 

When you make these a habit, your body can properly re-adjust to the new demands that will be placed on it as you do more exercises to get back in shape. You can start with simple stretches, performing each flexibility movement for up to one minute. And maybe incorporate stability and mobility exercises into your routine such as squats, lunges, and step-ups.

Mix it up 
According to Dr Basoita, engaging in one type of exercise sometimes gets boring but mixing several exercises can be helpful. 

“Try incorporating light cardio-respiratory workouts (also known as aerobics such as walking, jogging, jumping or skipping a rope) after stretching or yoga sessions. These help in preparing your smooth muscles such as the heart. If you are working out outdoors, a brisk 20-minute outdoor walk will help invigorate your mind and get your body moving again,” he says.

If you opt to exercise indoors, a treadmill or stationary bike are great alternatives. Remember not to push yourself too hard but depending on your schedule and time, you can also add core muscle exercises. You can then start strength training exercises after the first week of flexibility and light cardio exercises. 

Consider incorporating exercises that improve posture, develop core strength, and activate muscles throughout your gluteus and hamstring regions. These include squats, lunges, bridges, stability ball mobility, and core work. 

How to remain consistent
When you start again, it is important that you stay focused and faithful to your fitness routine. 
We are naturally social beings and love hanging out with friends. You can choose to exercise with friends to keep you motivated. 

Plan your workouts and have a particular time set aside for them. Maintaining consistency with your workout times will make you more likely to keep the routine.

If you really want to stay motivated and remain on track, do what you like by establishing a workout routine that brings you joy. With this routine, you are more likely to continue achieving your fitness goals than when you do something you do not like.

“Using fitness trackers can help you keep motivated all through the work-out session. There are various apps that can help keep you on a healthy path by telling the distance you have covered at what speed, your heart rate and number of calories burnt,” says Dr Basoita.

Remember to get some gear for the exercises that are very comfortable, have warm-ups before you start, give your muscles time to recover, and stretch afterwards.  

How much?
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends weekly goals of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic workouts (such as running).