Even the most devout exercise enthusiast can slip into an inactive rut where working out falls by the wayside. Between demanding jobs, family obligations and the desire to relax every once in a while – well, we’re sure you know just how easy it is to bump going to the gym down on your to-do list.
Whether you’ve been off your game for a month or a year, it’s no easy feat to dive back into regular exercise. But these four tips will get you started again on the right, sneaker-clad foot:
1. Learn from past mistakes. If you used to exercise on a regular basis, take a moment to ask yourself why you stopped. Did you switch jobs and start to work later hours? Did you simply get bored? By identifying these roadblocks, you’ll be able to set yourself up to succeed this time around. If late hours messed up your schedule, plan to hit the gym first thing in the morning. If running three miles every day got stale, mix up your routine with yoga or group classes.
2. Take baby steps. Ease your body back into an active lifestyle by incorporating movement into your daily routine. Ride your bike to work instead of taking the bus or climb two flights of stairs rather than waiting for the elevator. For the most part, we lead sedentary lives that take us from desk to couch and back again. A concerted effort to move more is a great first step to wake up long-forgotten muscles.
3. Set achievable goals. Even if you were the star of your high school swim team, don’t assume you’ll be able to finish 5,000 yards on your first dip back into the pool. Identify goals that you’ll actually be able to accomplish, and continue to re-evaluate them as your endurance increases. Each successful attempt will build your confidence and your desire to keep improving.
4. Brag about it. Telling friends and family about your fitness goals will hold you accountable and create consequences for failure. It might only be your pride at stake, but that’s enough to get many of us moving. If you need extra motivation, find a workout buddy and establish a joint exercise schedule. You could also sign up for an event that requires advance training, such as a 5K race. Just be sure to set a realistic goal and give yourself enough time to prepare!
Photo credit: Atomische * Tom Giebel