Congrats! You have made it through another winter. After all the decadent holiday food, weight fluctuation, flu bugs, and general desire to hibernate, you are ready for spring – the season of change. When spring rolls around, we tend to dust off our bar bells, pull our running shoes out of the hall closet, and jump back into our fitness goals.
But can you really just spring back into action without any planning? For most of us, the answer is no. Especially if you have been light on activity throughout the winter, you risk overdoing it if you hit it too hard the first few times in the gym or on the trail. To reduce the potential for pain and knocking yourself out for yet another season, here are five ways to safely and effectively spring back into fitness.
- Shoot for Lower Than the Stars.We know that sounds like less-than-uplifting advice, but the reality is that you must curb your enthusiasm when starting a new workout routine or picking up old habits. If you don’t underestimate your abilities, you could face injury or at least unnecessary soreness. Maybe you feel like you can power through it and “feel the burn,” but that burn might keep on you the sidelines for longer than you planned if you are not careful.
- Take Baby Steps. Just use common sense here. If you have been quite sedentary, you may even want to check with your doctor before jumping into an activity, such as Pilates or cycling. If you have been exercising on and off, use the slow-to-go-fast idea until you are comfortably pushing your own fitness levels again. You may want to start with just 10 minutes per day or every other day for a week. Then increase to 15 minutes the next week. Add five minutes each week until you are exercising for 30 to 45 minutes at a time.
- Slow and Steady.Making small fitness goals in the beginning does not give you permission to be a speed demon. Just as taking baby steps is important, so is going slow so you know your body can handle a certain amount of stress and fitness training before moving on. Many fitness experts recommend the 10 percent rule for safely easing into exercise. 10 percent of a 10-pound weight is 1 pound. 10 percent of 5 miles is 5.5 miles. You get the picture. The goal is to never increase weight, time, speed, or intensity more than 10 percent per week.
- Get a Good Stretch. The most important part of any exercise is to stretch, regardless of whether you just started it or have been practicing for years. Always stretch the muscles before and after exercise to loosen them up and help them resist impact.
- Stay Realistic. The duration of your inactivity influences how quickly you can jump back into exercise. If you used to work out three or four times per week and then you took two months off, it could take four to eight weeks to return to your former fit self. Just be patient and enjoy the journey.
Are you ready to get back into fitness? We are here to help you transition safely and slowly. For more info on our classes and one-on-one consultations, contact us today.