When you’ve taken a long break from exercising, it can be hard to get back into it. So, the thought of starting exercising again after a while can be a daunting one – both physically and mentally. However, you can ease into it safely by setting realistic expectations, ensuring you have a game plan and by prioritizing rest and recovery.
We show you the 5 steps to take to do exactly that – plan your way back to a consistent exercise routine in a safe and manageable way.
5 steps to start exercising again after a long break
Adjust your expectations
You could be the fittest woman on earth, but even after a long break, you can’t just get back into it at the level that you were before. Not training consistently for a while will mean that your endurance and strength levels would have decreased. This can be super demotivating for lots of people, preventing them from even trying in the first place, so it’s important to manage your expectations.
Accept the fact that you won’t be as fit or as strong as you were prior to the break and that’s completely okay – it just makes you human! By adjusting your expectations of your first few training sessions, you won’t be met with disappointment, which can make it harder to settle back into it.
Think of it as testing for your new current baseline for exercise, and you can work from there. The good news – muscle memory means that it won’t be long to get back to your previous level so if you continue to train hard consistently, you’ll get there sooner than you think.
Make a routine
This brings us to our next point – make a routine. Ever heard of the saying, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”? There’s a reason behind it. If you decided to exercise only whenever the whim took you, chances are, you’re not going to be very consistent in doing so.
Scheduling your exercise sessions means that you can plan your days around it, so there’s no excuse that you couldn’t find the time, because you’ve already made the time.
By creating a routine, you’re increasing the likelihood that you’ll stick to it. This means that sooner or later, regular exercise will become a habit for you as opposed to something that you have to work for, which can be mentally exhausting sometimes.
Start with something easy
Like we mentioned in our first point, you need to manage your expectations, so don’t go all out in your first few training sessions. Instead, start with something easy that won’t make you completely dread, and hence more likely to skip, your session after that.
Whether it’s a light lifting day or if you just want to go for a brisk walk, then do that. Just get moving. This will ease yourself into exercises again after a long break, and safely too.
Implement recovery days
It’s not just the exercising part that’s important, the recovery part is just as pivotal. This is why you need to ensure that you’re implementing recovery days into your routine, especially if you’re just starting exercising again after a long break – you’re going to need it!
For example, if you’re just easing yourself back into it, then you may opt for one or two exercise sessions a week to start with. Make sure that on the other days, especially the days straight after, you’re doing some form of active recovery, whether that’s stretching and foam rolling, swimming, light yoga or going for a walk.
Just ensure that you’re keeping it light. This means no intense workouts, otherwise that’s just another workout in itself. You need to take it easy so that the next time you train, you can push it a little harder. Your body will thank you for it.
Set a goal
Giving yourself a goal to work towards is a great way to keep your motivation up. To begin with, it might be difficult to identify a realistic goal, especially if you’re unsure of where your fitness level currently is. Instead, set a goal of training or even just going out for a walk for a certain number of times a week. Aim to hit this number for a month or even just two weeks if you need something smaller to work towards.
Once you’ve mastered a consistent routine, then you can look into specific performance goals to keep that motivation going.