According to the Cleveland Clinic, nearly 80% of Americans are not getting the optimal amount of exercise regularly. We can all admit that we’ve all taken some time off from fitness at one point or another, whether it be because of an illness, injury or personal reasons. Once you take the hiatus, it can become very overwhelming to get back into a regular fitness routine and you can become discouraged.
Whether it has been one month or 10 years, the Cardinal Health Fitness Center has some tips on how you can ease back into a fitness routine:
1.) Set SMART Goals
“SMART” is an acronym for: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. Setting a SMART goal is important when starting so you have a plan of action and to hold yourself accountable. Set one long-term SMART goal and multiple short term progressive goals that act as markers to help your reach your long term goal. The long-term goal is something that you would want to achieve in a 6 month-1 year time frame and the short term goals can be broken down to weekly, bi-weekly or monthly goals.
Long Term Goal: Lose 2 inches off my waist in 9 months
Short Term Goals: This week I will- 1) Go to Yoga twice 2) Limit myself to one soda 3) Run 5 total miles.
2.) Start Slow
The “all-or-nothing” or “0 to 100” mindset is definitely NOT the best way for fitness beginners and neither is it safe. Be mindful of this when you are setting your SMART goals. If you have never ran before, don’t tell yourself that you will run 3 miles a day. You will set yourself up to fail and will become discouraged. Starting small & easing your way back into a fitness routine is the best way to ensure your safety.
Adding physical activity into your life doesn’t necessarily mean you have to immediately sign-up to a gym. Physical activity can come from: adding a 15 minute walk into your day, parking in the back of the parking lot, taking the stairs, doing yard work, etc. Remember, the tortoise won the race, not the hare!
3.) Have a Buddy!
One of the best ways to stay motivated and accountable is to workout with a buddy. You are more likely to keep up your routine if you view your workout as a fun activity, and what better way than to workout with a friend! Make sure to discuss your goals with each other so you can ensure you are a good match. BONUS: You are less likely to get injured as you can help each other with technique & spotting.
4.) Have Structure
Whether it is creating your own workouts, having a personal trainer or taking group fitness classes, having structure is essential when getting back into fitness. Many beginners take the initial step to join a gym, but don’t actually have a clue on how to plan a workout. Group fitness classes are a great way to blend in, learn some valuable techniques & gain confidence! I would recommend speaking to your instructor before class starts to let them know it is your first time & to tell them about any injuries or modifications you may need.
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In-Person Fitness Center Classes
5.) Know Your Limits
Listen to your body & know your limits! Remember, everyone works at a different pace and it is not a race. If you are working out with a buddy or taking a group fitness class, it is okay to modify exercises or to allow yourself to take additional water breaks.
If you are feeling sore from yesterday’s workout, take the day off to recover. On your rest days, you can still go on a nice walk or get some stretching in, but don’t perform any vigorous activity. Your body needs recovery days– it will not hinder you from reaching your SMART goals!
DISCLAIMER: Always speak with a physician if you are experiencing discomfort, pain, or have pre-existing medical conditions before starting your fitness journey.
Written by: Kristen Wakeford