Getting back into exercise after you haven't done it in a while can be rough, which is why it's important to know exactly how to ease back into working out, the right way. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten super excited for a new exercise regiment, only to totally overdo it the first few days and end up right back on the couch.
In an interview over email with Bustle, running enthusiast and certified personal trainer Kyanna Buchanan says, "The most common mistake I see people make when trying to ease into working out again is doing too much, too quickly. Often times we want to [...] "get fit quick," without having the proper knowledge and tools to achieve our fitness goals in a genuine manner."
This, Buchanan says, can lead to a vicious cycle of yo-yo exercising, in which we workout intensely and regularly for a short period of time, but then just end up going back to our old ways.
Truth be told, Buchanan described my exact exercise MO But luckily, she also sent along some tips for getting back into exercise the proper way. So if you're about to hop back on the exercise horse after not having done it in a while, here are five tips for easing back in.
Yoga is the very first exercise Buchanan mentions when I ask her what the best types of workouts are for getting back into things. "Yoga relaxes and loosens the body preparing it for exercise," she says. And the nice thing about yoga is you can do it at a studio, or for absolutely free at home with guided videos, like the above from YouTube.
If you have access to a pool, Buchanan says that swimming is a great way to add cardio to your workout without putting too much stress on your body. Swimming was even ranked number one on a list of the best exercises you can ever do in an article from Harvard Medical School. So it may be worth trading in you gym membership for a pool membership, or at the very least making sure your gym has swimming facilities.
3. Light Strength Training
Buchanan also recommends combining light strength training with swimming and/or yoga when you first start working out again. But remember, keep it light at first. This means you shouldn't go to the gym and reach for the amount of weight you lifted or squatted during your pique fitness days in college. You won't gain anything if you're so sore the next day that you can't work out for a week.
OK, full disclosure — this is a personal tip, but I just had to throw it in because biking has seriously revolutionized my daily life. It's an extremely enjoyable way to get moving that doesn't leave you with shin splints, sore knees, or pained feet the next day. Plus, if you live in a city like I do, it can genuinely be the fastest and most cost-efficient way to get around. I had friends who raved about their bikes for years, but it wasn't until I got my own that I fully understood the appeal. And my pro-tip: invest in a cushy bike seat cover — it just makes life better.
5. Take Your Time!
Throughout her advice, Buchanan continually stresses the importance of taking your time when you start working out again. "Often times we would like to jump back into our fitness routine right where we left off," Buchanan says." However, "your body changes, becomes weaker and its capabilities have changed. Because of this we become discouraged and start thinking negatively towards our bodies and ourselves," she added. Easing back into things gradually is the best way to prevent injury, as well as prevent us from becoming discouraged — which will ultimately keep us working out more regularly in the long run.
At the end of the day, most of us already know what we should be doing when it comes to getting back into exercise — we're often just too impatient for results to actually follow our own good judgement. Keep the above tips in mind when getting back into moving again, and remember — personal fitness is a marathon, not a sprint!
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