Exercise is at the top of the pyramid of longevity. It's good for weight control, feeling good and staying mentally and physically healthy. Alas Christmas comes, travel makes it harder to work out, enjoying parties may leave people with a sore head, skipping a workout and then it gets easier to miss sessions. Before you know it, it's been a few weeks or a month or two! It can be hard to get back into the routine of exercise.
Restarting an exercise routine after an extended break requires a step-by-step approach to reestablish habits and prevent injury:
1. Assess Your Fitness Level: Evaluate your current level of fitness. This might mean slower paces, lighter weights, or fewer repetitions. If you have been away from the gym for a few weeks, only do 40% of what you were doing and build up from there. The last thing you need is an injury to start the new year. As a chiropractor here in Cardiff, gym injuries and much more common in January than other months of the year.
2. Set Realistic Goals: Outline achievable goals to keep motivation strong. Small, incremental targets are key. Often the thought of doing a lomg hard workout after some time off can be intimidating. So start with a gentle 20 minute workout, you will remember what you missed and will motivate you to do more.
3. Start Slowly: Begin with low-intensity workouts to ease your body back into exercise. Overdoing it can lead to injury or burnout.
4. Create a Routine: Consistency is crucial. Plan short workout sessions, perhaps 20-30 minutes, a few days a week. And work your way up to your goals.
5. Variety: Mix cardio, strength, and flexibility exercises to keep things interesting and work on overall fitness. This gives us the best of everything.
6. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body’s signals. Some muscle soreness is normal, but pain is a warning sign to stop and rest. Never train through pain. This is where chronic pain can persist and cause problems for a long time without proper rest and recovery.
7. Stay Hydrated and Eat Well: Proper nutrition and hydration support your return to exercise. You are what you eat as they say. Christmas can be an very indulgent time and our diet can fall quickly to the wayside. You'll find when you get back into the routine of exercise then you'll naturally want to eat better.
8. Track Progress: Keep a journal of your activities and progress. This can be motivating and help with setting future goals. It will also show you how quickly you are getting progress and moving forward.
9. Involve Friends or Groups: Having a workout buddy or participating in group classes can increase accountability and enjoyment.
10. Don’t Skip Rest: Recovery is essential; it's when your body heals and gets stronger.
Ease back into exercise with patience, and it can become a lasting habit once again.
I like to do short runs at Christmas time. It clears the head, gets you out of the house and stops you getting sick as it boosts your immune system. If you are really struggling to get back in the groove follow these steps to getting back on track. Also try not to be too hard on yourself. Sometimes a long break can feel good and help rest some over use injuries that were brewing in the background.
I hope this helps as I get back to the gym myself, and have a happy and healthy 2024!