The summer is pretty much over and many of us have already been on our holidays and are ready to get back into our normal routines. That includes getting back into exercise. Have you neglected exercising over the summer period? Maybe it was too hot or you just wanted to relax on your holiday? Or maybe it’s the injury which stopped you from exercising?
Regardless of why you stopped exercising, getting back into it is much easier said than done. I’ve been there. Although I love being active in summer, this summer has been different for some reason. It’s been really hot and many times I’ve been put off from exercising because of the weather. I know, it’s only an excuse. But still, it happened.
If I am really honest, I just got a bit lazy. Although I was still active to some extent (mostly walking and some cycling), I wasn’t as active as I think I should be. I know many of you are in the same situation, that’s why I wanted to share with you some tips on how to get back into exercise after a break. These tips are based on my personal experience and some additional research. So whether you want to get back into running, cycling or whichever sport you like, read on and see how to get back into exercise easily and safely.
What happens when you stop exercising?
First of all, before you get back into exercise you should understand what happens when you stop exercising. There have been studies which have shown that lack of exercise affects everything from your lungs and heart to your muscle mass.
Your muscle will shrink
This is a quite obvious effect of skipping the gym or stopping to exercise completely. Your muscles will shrink. Although this may not necessarily impact your strength. It will take about two weeks before this starts to happen.
Your VO2 max will decrease
The maximum amount of oxygen you can get into your system (VO2 Max) will drop.
Edward Coyle, a physiologist at the University of Texas, says: “It turns out the decline follows a half-life of about 12 days. You decline half of the level from where you start during the first 12 days.”
According to Coyle, for every week you remain idle, it takes about three weeks to regain the lost adaptations. If you’re starting at an incredibly high level of fitness, this isn’t a huge deal, but if you’re just beginning to exercise, it may be harder (or more discouraging) to come back from a period of exercise abstinence.
Your VO2 max (maximal oxygen intake) affects endurance so you will find yourself more out of breath when climbing stairs, for example.
Impact on your blood pressure and blood sugar
When you stop exercising, this will have an impact on both, your blood pressure and sugar levels in your blood.
Your blood pressure will increase as exercise helps to lower blood pressure.
Exercise also lowers blood glucose and when you stop exercising your post-meal blood sugar levels will remain elevated instead of dropping (your muscles and other tissues suck up the sugar they need for energy).
Getting back into exercise tips
Now that you know what happens to your body when you stop exercising, you will understand why getting back into exercise quickly is not a good idea. Your body won’t be ready for it so you will struggle and may even risk injuries, so don’t do it, don’t just jump into it. You need to take it slowly.
If you struggle for motivation, that’s another thing.
I certainly did struggle to start exercising again after a bit of break. I just got lazy, that’s all. But I know how important it is to exercise so I decided to take action.
What I did was something that was very easy and that anybody can do. You have to do this first step, just to get a feeling of what’s like to exercise again. Just a reminder: you will feel good after exercise.
Getting started is the first obstacle to overcome. So make it easy. It really doesn’t matter what you do. Just start moving. This is the first step. Do some easy and simple exercises. Dance. Walk up and down the stairs. Go for a fast walk. Once you do something you may be in a mood to do more. And that’s how you get started.
What I did to get out of a rut was about 5-10 minutes of some simple exercises every day.
In the first few days, I decided to do things like squats, lunges, wall push-ups, some stretching, jumping jacks, plank. Nothing that I found too difficult to do. Once I was doing these exercises of my choice for a few days I decided to follow the 7 Minute App to do things properly. And that’s how I was back to exercising again. I am still increasing my activity levels and duration but I am slowly getting there.
When you first start moving again, you will certainly feel good afterwards and as a result, you will have the motivation to do more.
But you don’t want to overdo it and do too much too soon. Here is how to get back into exercise slowly and safely:
1. Don’t forget to warm up
A very important step which some people like to neglect. A warm up. It gently prepares your body for exercises and slowly increases your heart rate. It helps to prepare your muscles for the movements they will be required to carry out during the activity. This is a very important step which helps to prevent injuries.
2. Start with short sessions and easy exercises
Wake up those muscles by doing something that is easy enough but it can be made harder if you want. If you are in the gym, do some weights which are not too heavy and do more sets if you feel like it.
If you are back into cycling, start on flat roads and change gears to make it harder, if you feel like it. You don’t need to take the hills. Just yet. You get it. Start easy and make it harder when ready. Don’t make your sessions too long so that you allow your body to get used to being active again. When things are easier you are also less likely to give up.
3. Start with the frequency you feel comfortable with
When getting back into exercise it doesn’t mean you have to start exercising every single day. Just do whatever works for you. Maybe you do it once or twice a week to start with (just schedule it in so you commit to it).
Once you get more comfortable, increase your frequency to three times a week and then maybe four times a week. Starting slow will make it easier and more achievable.
4. Give yourself a break
Once you start working those muscles again you will no doubt feel it. You may wake up feeling quite sore one day and when you do, just take a break. Your muscles need time to recover so do listen to your body, don’t ignore it. Give it a rest, as long as it needs. But that doesn’t mean you have to be completely inactive. On your rest days, you can do other things like take a walk or do some yoga.
If you follow these tips you will no doubt be exercising again regularly in no time. And try not to have a big break again soon as getting back into exercise is not that easy, right?
Have you got any tips on how to get back into exercise? Whether it’s to do with motivation, technique or anything else, I would love to hear it!