Easing Back Into an Exercise Routine after Taking Time OffPosted: Nov 29 in Getting Active, Healthy Eating, Lifestyle by Craig Primack MD FACP
Good intentions to the contrary, nearly everyone faces a setback in their usual healthy exercise routine at one time or another. It could be the result of illness, overbooking in work or family obligations or a simple momentary lapse in commitment to the cause. Whatever the reason, there eventually comes a time when well-meaning individuals heed the call to ramp up their fitness program.
Before you jump in with both feet, it’s wise to plan your course of action carefully. There are a few things you should do before you resume your exercise routine.
- You’ve heard it a million times, but it bears repeating. It’s always wise to get clearance from your doctor before starting or re-starting an exercise program. This is especially true if your time away from the gym was due to illness or injury. Remember, your goal is improved fitness, not causing debilitating harm to yourself.
- Don’t pick up where you left off when you were at the peak of your fitness program. Depending on how long you’ve been away from your routine, it could take weeks to build back up to your former levels. Start slowly and increase efforts and duration steadily as you feel your strength improving.
- Create accountability for yourself. Chart your goals and accomplishments or use a fitness tracker to monitor your progress. It’s rewarding to see improvement in a quantifiable way. Your only real competition is yourself so be honest about your expectations and progress.
- Create an exercise schedule you can really live with. If you allowed life to interfere with your exercise schedule before, it can happen again. Try to make a realistic plan for moving forward. Don’t let a small lapse turn into totally abandoning your goals. It’s easier to get back on schedule if you actually have a schedule.
- Add something new to your exercise checklist. It’s always beneficial to change what you’re doing. A new exercise or sport helps your body move in different ways and it excites your mind to work on something new. Engaging your brain is a huge part of succeeding and continuing with your exercise program.
- Get a friend to join you as you recommit to your healthy lifestyle. Sharing the joys and frustrations on your exercise journey will help you maintain a steady course. Potential guilt over letting your exercise buddy down can be a motivator to keep you going when your heart’s not always in it.
- Focus on the positive aspects of sticking with your exercise routine. Remember how good you feel after a day, a week or a month of following your program. Don’t despair over what you accomplished in the past. Set your sights on current and future progress.
Maintaining a solid exercise program is a lifelong effort. It can be easy to get side-tracked. Once you have set your mind to it, you can start right where you are and erase those past lapses. Always work towards being the best and strongest person you can be.