Letting your fitness routine get a little rusty during the winter months is not uncommon and shouldn’t be a source of shame. We’ve all been there: an injury that sidelines us long enough to make getting back in the habit of regular movement difficult. Or health challenges or chronic conditions make the hour we used to spend at the gym five days a week impossible.
Everybody falters, and getting back to physical self-care—especially in a demanding profession like massage therapy—is a win.
As spring approaches, here are four tips to help you take that first step back to regular exercise:
No. 1: Get to Your Why
Getting in shape or committing to fitness does not have to mean you’re trying to lose weight. Perhaps you want to increase your endurance, something that is particularly important for massage therapists. Or, you might want to increase your energy levels. Whatever your reason, understanding why you’re making a commitment to restart a fitness routine will help reinforce your motivation, which may prove invaluable when you’re trying to get through a workout.
No. 2: Start Small
Thinking that you have to go out and run five miles is easy when you’re trying to get back to a fitness routine, especially if you were used to logging those kinds of miles. But, if you’ve not been exercising regularly for a while, starting with a 10- or 15-minute walk or stretching regimen every day or every other day will help you be able to endure a more intense workout quicker and with less risk of injury.
Tip: Short on time? Divide your exercise time into more manageable chunks throughout your day, like a five-minute walk when you get up and another after dinner.
No. 3: Go Slow
As we head into spring where the sun shines more and days get longer, lacing up your shoes and heading out the door to see if you can nab a personal best or play that extra long game of basketball may be hard to resist. Still, you need to go slow. A good rule of thumb is to never increase your weight, time, speed or intensity more than 10 percent per week.
Tip: Need that adrenaline rush? Try varying your intensity with high-intensity interval training.
No. 4: Health Is Not A Punishment
Make sure you find physical activity and healthy snacks and meals that feel like rewards instead of punishment. Your health is exactly that—a reward, a gift—and so focusing on deprivation and choosing exercise that feels like a grind are two of the quickest ways to derail your progress.
Tip: Don’t go it alone! Make exercising fun by committing to work out with a friend and develop friendly challenges to keep you both motivated, like who can do the most push-ups in one minute.
Already Fit? Tips for Seasoned Athletes
For those who maintained their exercise regimen but maybe want to train for upcoming events and need to kick their fitness up a notch, here are few tips to get you started:
Cross Train: You’re running a marathon this year and so are sure to put the necessary miles on your sneakers every week. But, marathons are about more than running. To prepare for any event, varying your workouts can help improve performance and protect against injury. Try weightlifting, hiking, biking or taking a boot camp class to get the workout you want while also limiting the stress on all the same muscle groups.
Don’t Exercise in Pain: Especially if you’re training for a future event, taking time off to nurse injuries can feel like you’re putting yourself behind. But pain, especially if it’s sharp and new, can signal an injury is developing. Don’t ignore what your body is telling you.
Follow a Training Program: If you’re looking to be in top shape for an event, consider following a training program. When you map what workouts will look like and have performance goals you want to hit in conditioning, staying on track can be much easier.