Keeping active plays a big part in our physical and mental health. So if you’ve let things slide over the past few months, here are some great tips for easing back into exercise safely.
With summer now in full sizzle, the heat can sometimes be just another excuse for not exercising too much. What a few months ago was pleasant outdoor activity with a nice cooling breeze, is now often a humid, rather more sweaty affair.
In addition, the stress and uncertainty of the past few years – not to mention the need for social distancing and gyms being shut – means there’s a good chance our exercise regimes have been thrown off kilter anyway.
And whether COVID has disrupted your day to day, you’ve let things slip since winter, or just allowed things to slide in general, after such a long break from physical activity, it can be tough to get back into the swing of things. But now could be a great time to pick up the pace.
The temptation when trying to get fitter again is to set unrealistic goals - jumping straight back in at the level we know we used to achieve. But the truth is that our bodies need time to adjust. So it’s much better to gradually ease back into a fitness regime by taking small steps - otherwise we risk doing ourselves some serious mischief.
Whether you’re a runner, a walker, a swimmer or a gym goer, most medical professionals suggest keeping things simple and sticking to the basics, at least to start with. Then gradually upping your game as you go to make your goals more achievable.
Motivation is key
But we’re jumping the gun here. The first step in getting back into any fitness regime is overcoming that struggle to get started. So to help you blow away those cobwebs, get motivated – and stay motivated – here are some of our top tips to set you on your way:
1) Get your head straight
First cab off the rank is making it happen, and early mornings are a great time to start, especially in summer. So set the alarm, ignore that snooze button and swing those feet out of bed. Once you’re up and about, you can then decide whether to grab some brekky first, or get straight into it with some warm-up stretches and exercises.
2) Start slow
As we’ve said, jumping straight into vigorous exercise can actually do more harm than good, so take things slowly at first. If you’re a runner and you feel like running, then go for it. Or you could try a brisk walk instead, until you feel more in the swing of things. Remember, any exercise is good for you.
3) Variety helps
Variety is the spice of life, so they say, so try not to get stuck in too much of a routine straight away. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you want to stay at home, try some light exercises or yoga. Or if you feel like getting out, a walk, run or swim might be in order. Whatever you choose, try to change things up – that way it won’t feel like a chore and you’re less likely to become bored.
4) Enlist a buddy
Still lacking motivation? Make plans with a friend to head out and exercise together. That way you’ll feel obliged to honour your commitment and less inclined to kick up your heels. If you have a dog to exercise too, that could be all the motivation you need for staying active on a regular basis.
5) Musical motivation
Prefer to do things on your own? At least have your earbuds for company. A decent track or twelve is a great way to make the time pass faster, and pump you up to exercise too. So whether music, talking books or podcasts are your thing, load up your phone and away you go. Just make sure you stay aware of your surroundings.
6) Make it a habit
It can take a while to form a healthy habit, but the rewards are well worth it. And the more often you take the healthy choice, the easier it will get. So much so that after a while you may find your body is actually telling you to get out there and exercise – that’s endorphins at work for you, rewarding your brain for the work you’re putting in.
7) Stay safe
Last - but by no means least - don’t overdo things, especially when you’re just getting back into the groove. For most of us, starting an exercise program is fine to do without medical consultation. But if you haven’t exercised for a while, are over 50, or have a medical condition such as heart disease or diabetes, make sure you talk to your GP or another qualified healthcare expert.
Living your best life will always mean getting some regular exercise. So make the most of the better weather, and start your fitness drive today.