Congratulations on deciding to exercise again. If you’re returning from a long lapse, there are practical adjustments you can make to rev yourself up and avoid injuries. These techniques will help your body and your mind.
- Set short term goals. Prepare yourself for success by first taking it a day at a time. You’re making progress every morning when you hit the treadmill instead of the snooze button.
- Remember your motivation. Figure out what fires you up and keep it foremost in your mind. Maybe your doctor advised you to lower your blood pressure or you want to return to the dress size you wore before your last child.
- Be patient. It will take time to get back in shape. The good news is that you may still make gains quicker than someone who never exercised before. There’s some truth to muscle memory even though it’s your brain that stores your previously acquired skills.
- Focus on the future. Forgive yourself for dropping out of your last workout routine. Look ahead in anticipation to becoming fitter and leaner.
- Adapt to changing conditions. Much has probably changed over the years. Modify your routine to accommodate your age, medical conditions, family life, and career demands.
- Revise your to do list. Avoid stress by budgeting time for yoga or swimming. Cut back on watching TV or learn quick recipes for weekday dinners.
- Enlist support. Welcome help from others. Buy a couples membership at your local gym or exchange encouraging tweets with an online friend.
- Take a picture. Before and after pictures will show you what a difference exercise can make. If you’re more concerned with your health or performance, look for changes in your resting heart rate or the time it takes you to run a mile.
- Talk with your doctor. If you’ve been sedentary for a long time, consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your physician can help you plan the best activities for you and refer you to other professionals if needed.
- Start back gradually. Ease back into a more active life. Use lighter weights and run shorter distances. A good general rule is to work your way up in 10% increments weekly.
- Schedule more rest. Give your body time to recover from the extra work it’s doing. Take a day off each week and get enough sleep.
- Watch your diet. Except for intense endurance training, exercise has a relatively small effect on how many more calories you need. Eat nutritious foods and stay hydrated.
- Engage in a variety of activities. Cross training enhances overall conditioning and helps to prevent injuries caused by overuse. Participating in a broad range of activities you enjoy will also help you to want to stay active.
- Train efficiently. Getting better results in less time is a must when you’ve got a busy schedule. Pick up a book on interval training or ask for instructions at your gym. Alternating between high and low intensity moves works wonders.
- Update your routine. Take advantage of the latest research and trends. You may want to stop doing some exercises that experts now advise against. On the other hand, kettle bells and indoor cycling classes may be new discoveries that you’ll be glad to adopt.
Regular exercise improves your life and can even help it to last longer. Get over your past lapses and head back to the gym. The sooner you start the better you’ll feel.