As temperatures start to warm, days start to get longer and most importantly we begin to get vaccinated, many people will begin to think about returning (if they have not done so already) to regular physical activity at the club. For some this may be the first time you will be getting back into structured exercise in months or maybe over a year. With a pause of that length, one of the biggest things you need to consider is how you properly and safely get back into a routine that sets you up to rebuild a habitual pattern of behavior of regular physical activity rather than one that burns you out too quickly or even worse leads to injury that sets you back even further.
Here are 5 things that you should consider as you get going again.
1.Be able to adapt
The biggest difference for some of you may be exercising in a mask for the first time. You may find that you need to change the way you exercise to accommodate for this in terms of changing your programming (order of exercises, rest times, volume etc.) to account for the mask. Many returning members expressed concerns that a mask would be detrimental to their respective workouts and most have found it hasn’t been as bad as they had anticipated. In fact, recent research from Harvard University has found that masking did not cause a significant loss in VO2max or increased CO2 levels as a result. You may also want to use your first few weeks back to work on some things that might not be as taxing to your body aerobically but might be just as beneficial. Did I hear someone say flexibility/mobility work? How many times have we said we need to spend more time on that and NEVER do? Well now is the perfect time!
2. Take it slow
You may have a sense of guilt and desire to make up for the months of inactivity. Take time with your re-entry. Don’t focus as much on the metrics right now (how much you weigh, how many miles you used to run, how much you used to squat etc). Focus more on re-creating the habitual pattern of structured exercise and celebrate the mental component of how you feel again. If you do that the physical will fall into place eventually. If you have been there before you can and will get back if you do it the right way. Focus on a slow and gradual ramp up. It won’t take as long as you likely think it will!
3.Listen to your body
I know….we use this phrase a lot but now it makes more sense than ever. Be aware of what your body is telling you and adapt accordingly. That may mean doing half the workout you had envisioned or maybe taking an extra rest day or two that you might not have taken time for before. Obviously if you have any issues with breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations or anything that just doesn’t feel normal you should stop exercise immediately and consult with your physician. Unfortunately, we still do not know the long-term health effects on our cardiovascular system and other parts of our body for those who unfortunately did contract COVID so anyone who did have get it should be even more cautious and in tune with what indicators are bodies are giving us. Now more than ever “no pain no gain” is the wrong mantra for your exercise program.
4.Don’t forget about any injuries
For many of us some time off was a good thing to let some nagging overuse injuries recover. Be smart when you return. If you try to build up frequency, duration, load volume etc. too quickly you may be sorry. Just because the injury may no longer be giving you pain it may or may not be fully recovered and doing too much could land you back in pain. If you fell behind on any pre/rehab work you were doing be sure to get back to that as well-potentially using solely that for your first few weeks if need be.
5.Get some help
Our team of fitness professionals is here to help you navigate your re-entry to the club and regular physical activity. If you need any suggestions on new ideas for your programs, where the best place to start is, how to navigate a previous or current injury or any health and wellness related questions please do not hesitate to ask. We are here to help you however we can!!!
Be well everyone. 😊
WOAC Fitness Director