Resume Your Exercise Routine

mature Asian man exercising with free weights

For many of us, the holidays are a hectic time! We put hours of preparation into selecting, purchasing, and wrapping gifts, decorating our homes, cooking, and baking, and perhaps getting ready for guests or traveling to our destination.

This year, as in last year, many of us had to pivot a bit. If it wasn’t safe to gather with family, we got a crash course in virtual visits. If we did gather, we might have been scheduling COVID tests and safe get-togethers like an air traffic controller. Maybe we ordered gifts online, tracked the packages, only to wrap them and trek to ship them off again. In many areas of the country, bad weather created even more of a challenge!

Experts remind us that we should make time for exercise, even when we’re busy—but if you didn’t heed that advice, you are certainly not alone! But now it’s over, the guests have gone home, the holiday decorations are put away, and it’s time for a little relaxation. We might be tempted to reward ourselves with a break from our regular routine—but if it’s the third week of January and we’re still skipping exercise, we’re not doing ourselves a favor! Here are some tips for disrupting that post-holiday inertia and getting back on track:

  • Don’t judge yourself. Look ahead, not back. Yes, you skipped those days—but that was then and this is now. Assure yourself that today is the first day of a committed routine.
  • Remind yourself of all the reasons that you exercise, and your goals. Write these down and post them where you can see them—maybe on the refrigerator? Need some inspiration? How about “Stay independent longer,” “Play with my grandkids,” “Control my arthritis pain” or “Reduce my risk of falls”?
  • If your exercise routine just isn’t seeming appealing, try something new! Take an online exercise class. Try yoga or tai chi. Get a bike, or watch movies while walking on a treadmill. Add music to your routine or listen to an eBook.
  • Find a buddy. Though social distancing limits the in-person exercise opportunities these days, you can exercise with friends outdoors, work out with an online exercise class, or join a virtual fitness support group to share your successes. How about taking an online dance class with your spouse or someone else in your “bubble”?

Getting back up to speed … safely

If you’ve skipped your fitness routine for a while, whether for the holidays, or recovering from an illness, or providing care for a loved one, it’s important to start up again safely, rather than jumping right in at the same intensity. When we’re deconditioned, we’re at higher risk of an injury that could send us back to square one again. The National Institutes of Health offers these tips:

  • Begin slowly, with low-intensity activities. Don’t overdo it. Be sure to warm up before and after your workout. Then, as you get back on track, add a little more intensity and increase your workout time.
  • If you are using weights for strength-building, begin with the lightest weights, and lift them into place with slow, steady movements. Don’t lock your arms or legs. It’s safest to ask an expert to show you the proper form before you begin.
  • Did you get new walking shoes for a holiday gift? Be sure they are properly fitted, with non-skid soles and arch support.

Talk to your doctor about exercise.

If your health condition has changed or if you’re intending to increase your activity level or type of exercise, talk to your doctor first. Ask for a “prescription” for an exercise program, and find out if there are any activities you should avoid if you have arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, or a heart condition. Once you get the green light, you’ll be able to be active with confidence!

Source: IlluminAge with information from the National Institutes of Health

Categories: Blog Post
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