Honestly, most of us have fallen off the exercise bandwagon at some point, and although for some, getting back into the swing of things is relatively easy, for most of us, it can seem daunting.
We all know the importance of exercise for our physical and mental health, but even with the best of intentions, life can occasionally interrupt our efforts. Whether it's work, family, social events, injuries, or stress, it doesn't take long before a few weeks' break turns into months.
In fact, this is precisely my current situation; having missed six weeks of my usual running routine due to minor surgery, I am itching to start, but not before consulting our go-to health “Guru” Dr Paul Hermann.
Regardless of where you're at in your fitness journey, Dr Paul has some great tips to help you get back on track.
Dr Hermann: “This is a great idea. Our bodies change (both positively and negatively) quite rapidly and many of us have been in and out of lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic for a long time. Many of my patients have reported being a lot less active, sitting a great deal more and suffering greater levels of stress and tension. A qualified health professional such as an Osteopath or Physiotherapist can do a quick assessment to determine both what your body needs most and what you should avoid at least initially. They can then advise you and/or your personal trainer (with your permission) of their assessment findings and recommendations.”
Dr Hermann: “Always start with small steps before you are strong enough to leap, or you are likely to trip and hurt yourself. I always tell my patients this saying and it holds true especially now. We need to give our bodies time to restore strength, flexibility and conditioning and no matter who you are, or how well you eat and rest, you cannot change the time required. Your health professional can advise safe steps to progressively increase your workloads and always listen to your body during and after your workouts.”
Dr Hermann: “YES!! Make them S.M.A.R.T. with the focus on being Realistic. It would be nice to think we could return to our pre-lockdown levels of fitness and strength within two workouts but sadly this simply isn’t possible. Our goals need to take into consideration our lifestyle, time available, costs, and our past history of activity, health and injuries.”
Dr Hermann: “Setting goals, making them realistic and achievable, start with small steps and remember every action towards the healthy habit change you want to achieve, is success in itself. Focus on the big picture, and while being kind to yourself, remember WHY you are working on these changes so you stay motivated, consistent and on track. One hack from James Clear (Atomic Habits) that I love is to make obvious what we want to add into our lives. An example is if you are trying to run first thing in the morning, put your running gear out the night before so when you wake up, before you even think about snoozing, you start getting dressed into it. Or if you want to run after work, leave it at the front door so when you arrive you simply change and go, before you have a chance to sit down (and change your mind). Our podcast series on creating healthy habits has plenty more hacks this like this also which may help.”
Dr Hermann: “Going back to setting goals, I think it’s crucial to be honest with ourselves. There is no shame in where we are at now but being honest about it will improve our chances of avoiding injuries and setbacks so we can be consistent with our training and achieve ongoing results. Whilst I believe everyone is capable of achieving amazing things, we must accept that we will all have different timelines and differing circumstances. A healthy mix of self belief, self worth, dedication, with a dose of life acceptance tends to give the best results.”
There you have it, folks, useful and practical tips from Dr Paul to help you get back into your fitness routine safely.
Check out our podcast to listen to Dr Paul Hermann talking about how to run well, the importance of dynamic exercises, and how to stretch after running!
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