You know the drill: Your New Year’s plans gave way to, well it’s summer now and you are still figuring out how to embark on a sustainable and reasonable health and exercise plan. Even though you may feel you are in a rut, motivation is actually only a few workouts away.
Take these tips from Ali Syed, regional fitness manager at Fitness First, for getting back to a healthy exercise routine any time that you happen to take a break.
Be kind to yourself
The best thing to do after taking time off from the gym is to ease yourself back into it. Try not to worry too much. It’s okay to take a break and enjoy life. After all, it’s all about balance. Remember, exercise is for life, not just for one day, a week or even a month.
To ease yourself back in, try factoring in three hours a week of exercise. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, this is the amount of exercise that can help us live at least 10 years longer.
Build up your strength and endurance
Try 20 to 30 minutes of cardio, making sure to keep your heart rate between 65 to 80 percent, and then move into 20 to 30 minutes of weight training. When returning to weight training after time off, don’t dive back in to previous weights. Instead, increase the weight you are lifting gradually, as this will help build up your strength safely. Whichever weight training you choose to do, start off with 12 to 15 reps.
Low-intensity cardio is key
Low intensity, 30-minute cardio workouts are great for quick results. For example, swimming is perfect, as it provides you with a full-body workout and doesn’t affect the joints. Swimming is also great for calming the mind and relieving any stress or anxiety you might be feeling.
Try a personal trainer
It’s normal for people to feel demotivated or bored of the gym. Setting realistic goals and challenges are great ways to keep you motivated and a personal trainer is a good way to take things up a notch and get you back on track. A qualified trainer will create a workout program specifically tailored for your needs and goals. Once you start seeing results from personal training, you will feel motivated to continue your fitness journey.
Studies have shown that people exercise more often, push themselves harder and train for longer when they work out with a friend. Not only is it fun and motivational but it can also activate a competitive streak, pushing you to lift heavier, run faster or squeeze in an extra rep or two. Scheduling a gym session with a partner also helps you stay focused and makes you more responsible about putting the work into your workout. In fact, having the right workout buddy can often be the difference between failure and success.
• This article originally ran in 2019.