At the start of the new year, it’s common to want to return to exercise and going back to the gym. After taking some time off, whether it’s been years, months, weeks, or days it’s important to get back on track. Here are some tips for your most successful year yet!
Set yourself up for success: Having a general “get back to the gym” goal can be daunting. Setting smaller achievable goals can help you achieve that long term goal and stick with it. Try setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time based goals, or ‘SMART’ goals.
Warm it up: Before you jump in, try a 5 to 10 minute warm up to get you prepared for activity. Save the stretching for after, instead opt for an active warm up to promote dynamic stretching to start. Try to incorporate as many body parts as you can to maximize your efforts. Some examples include light biking or walking, jumping jacks, inchworms, or walking leg kicks.
Change it up: Keep it fun to keep it interesting! Not all exercise has to be boring, if you don’t like plain cardio exercises, try strength training movements. Studies show combined cardio and strength exercises are more effective than one on their own.
Be Smart: Try the tips below to prevent injuries:
- Start at an appropriate level of challenge. Whatever weight or resistance you start at should feel challenging, but not so much that you are not able to complete more than a few repetitions. The last repetitions should feel difficult. If it feels like you do not have control or are able to complete the activity without changing your form or compensate in another way, try the level or weight below and work your way up.
- Progress resistance and/or difficulty once you feel comfortable, especially if it is a new exercise or type of exercise.
- Be consistent, but don’t overdo it. Build towards mileage, repetitions, and/or time exercising.
- If you are exercising outside, wear appropriate layers and/or equipment.
- Make time to warm up before and cool down after exercise.
Rest and Recover: After exercise, it is normal to feel sore and tired. Exercise creates changes in body temperature, energy expenditure, heart rate, respiratory rate through muscular contractions. Always make sure to improve your recovery with a cool down to gradually decrease heart rate. Follow this up with stretches to improve and maintain your range of motion and muscle relaxation.
Stay Fueled: Make sure you sustain yourself with enough food and fluids. Support your loss of fluid and prevent cramping and dehydration. With your increased energy demands, it is important to make sure you are eating enough to have enough energy to sustain your output.
Blog by Stephanie Lee, PT, DPT located at our Downtown clinic.