Getting Back to Exercise After Injury or Absence
You’ve tweaked your back, recovered from a virus, had a baby, worked overtime, taken an extended vacation or simply never fell in love with exercise enough to keep it up. In short, you’ve been out of training long enough that the post workout glow and muscle pump is nothing but a distant memory. The hardest thing about doing anything for the first time is getting started.
Falling off the fitness bandwagon can be demoralizing, especially if you’ve been physically injured which can set you back in ways you never thought possible. When muscles sit dormant for long periods of time, they become like an unused vehicle sitting on stilts over the winter months. Ask any woman who hasn’t used her abdominals during her pregnancy. While the body always needs a recovery period, too long of a break encourages physical laziness, and makes it more difficult to mentally get back in the game.
If your mind decides that your body is too tired, stressed or rundown to do exercise, you won’t get off the couch. If your body decides it will soon gain energy, unwind and look amazing, you’ll hit the ground running!
Here are three simple ways you can comfortably restore your fitness journey without getting discouraged to step back out.
First and foremost, don’t be so hard on yourself! No matter what happened in the past to put the breaks on exercise, the most important time you have is right now and moving forward. The mind is an amazing instrument that can either help or hurt you depending on how you use it. Rather than reflect on what stopped you from training initially, why not focus on every positive reason to start again? Improved cardio, defined muscles, lowered body fat, stress reduction, better sleep, and community support are just a few to get you started. You don’t have to do the same program, exercises or activities! Instead, try developing an interest in something entirely new that brings you lots of joy and tons of results.
Baby steps! If you were injured in a particular type of exercise regime and want to get back into it, by all means, get going! But scaling back your first few workouts is always advised so you don’t leave huffing and puffing or hide under a rock from being humbled. Give yourself permission to slow down, catch your breath and lift less to ease back into it. While you can expect lost strength and stamina, be understanding that it’s simply a reflection of where you are now, but in no way, shape or form, representative of where you will be in the very near future.
- Commit to a schedule that you’ll stick to! One of the biggest mistakes people make is diving head first into something ‘unrealistic’. Trying to make up for lost time, they vow to train every waking moment before the sun comes up and suddenly find themselves hitting the snooze button, then skipping workouts, then throwing in the towel altogether. If afternoon is when you feel most alive, find a way to fit activity in there! If you prefer to get it out of the way, find classes that accommodate early birds. In the world of health and fitness, there is an abundance of every activity at every possible time. Joining a class with a specific day and time structure will keep you more accountable than simply deciding to go to do exercise when you feel like it.