No matter how fit you are, a several-week hiatus in exercise will mean a reduction in your endurance. If you’ve been running several miles a day and stop because of illness or time constraints, you’ll still have to ease back into it.
And if you’ve never exercised regularly? You’ll need to know how to start in a way that gives you the most results but the least soreness and injury.
Before you’re ready to engage in EAT (Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), you’ll want to increase your NEAT—(Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). Move more. You can do that by parking farther away, tapping your feet while you sit at your desk, standing up more frequently, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
When you decide you’re ready to get the heart pumping faster, be sure you’re healthy enough for exercise. This means getting the go ahead from your doctor—something that’s necessary for most of us, especially when it’s been some time between physical exams.
When you choose your exercise, be sure it’s something you will want to do!
It should be convenient.
There’s nothing more convenient than lacing up your shoes and heading out the door or hopping on the treadmill in your basement! Join a gym that’s close to you, so you won’t have to factor in all the extra commute time. You don’t need any excuses for missing a workout!
It should be enjoyable.
Always hated running? Don’t start with running. Did you enjoy riding your bike as a kid? Feel like a kid again. But if you don’t like your first choice, don’t give up! Too many people quit exercising altogether when their first choice isn’t suited to them. Find something you like.
It should be pain-free.
Nothing should hurt you—not your equipment or your body. Be sure your shoes fit and your bike seat is right for you. Don’t work out an injured body part. Sometimes early on worked muscles will be sore, and it’s actually good to continue your exercise so that your muscles don’t get stiff.
It should be maintainable.
If the thought of walking every day bored you to tears, change it up! Go skating, get on the bike, use a hula hoop. Put on your headphones, and work out to your favorite music. Prop a good book on top of the treadmill. Changing it up every so often will also help confuse the muscles and work some different ones.
What about time and intensity? After you’ve found the right exercise for you, go for time. On your first few days, work out for ten minutes. When you feel you can go longer, add five. Continue to add five minutes until you work up to a half-hour several days a week.
Once you are fairly comfortable with your workout time, add more days until you’re working out at least five days a week. Add intensity, too. Can you walk a mile in 20 minutes? Walk a little faster. Whittle it down to 18 minutes, then 16 minutes. Are you riding 8 mph on the stationary bike? Rev it up to 10, then 12, then 15.
Always increase in manageable increments to create a new healthy habit you’ll love forever.