There are many reasons for getting out of the fitness loop — you may have experienced an injury or illness, been pregnant, or lacked time due to a hectic schedule. If you’re ready to get back to being active, set yourself up for success by following these tips.
- Get the green light. Talk to your doctor first if you’ve been inactive for a long time and are over the age of 40, or if you’ve had an injury or a serious illness like heart disease.
- Start slowly. You may want to start off where you left off, but gradual progress provides a steady rate of improvement (and encouragement!) and helps keep you injury-free.
- Do what you love. Go back to the activities you once loved, whether that’s walking on a treadmill to your favourite music, gardening, in-line skating with your kids, cycling in the country, or swimming laps at the community pool.
- Get the right gear. Your old gear may be worn or doesn’t fit properly any longer. Be sure you have the basic footwear, clothing and equipment required to perform the activity safely and comfortably.
- Practice safe stretching. It helps increase your performance and prevent injury. Stretch after warming up and at the end of a workout; hold each stretch for three breaths; don’t bounce.
- Set measurable, short-term goals. For example, you could start by walking 10 minutes every day for a week, then increase it to 15 minutes every day, and so on, until you meet your long-term goal, whether that’s walking for 30 minutes non-stop, or joining a 5K fun run.
- Find your intensity. A guideline is to be breathing more heavily than normal but to still be able carry on a conversation.
- Listen to your body. If you experience any pain or warning signs of injury, or if you are short of breath or your heart is racing, it’s time to slow down or stop. Begin again more slowly and gradually when you feel better.
- Allow for recovery. Remember that your body needs time to repair itself after exertion. Allow a day off between workouts.
- Keep a record. Track your progress in the months to come and you’ll get a boost when you see how active you’ve been.
According to Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for adults (18-64 years old), aim for 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity per week — which can be done in bouts of 10 minutes or more. And at least two days a week, add strength-building activities that use your major muscle groups.