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Tips for Returning to an Exercise Program

Returning to an Exercise Program

Whether your break from exercise has been one month or two years, it’s never too late to get back into it. Use these tips to help you return to an exercise program and make it a permanent part of your everyday life.

Determine your current fitness level.

If you haven’t been exercising for an extended period, you are not in the same shape you were the last time you stepped into the gym. Don’t pick up right where you left off. Begin with lower intensity exercises, shorter workout segments, or fewer workouts per week. If you breeze through the easier workout schedule, step it up and take on more challenging exercise. If you find the less intense regimen difficult, don’t get discouraged. Commit to your workouts and you’ll be back to where you left off in no time.

Get nagging problems checked out.

If an injury or annoying pain is what made you drop your program in the past, don’t expect those problems to magically disappear. Make an appointment with your doctor to get clearance for exercise and consider meeting with a trainer for guidance on the types of exercises that will help you avoid future pain.

Stay flexible.

Like other areas of life, exercise preferences change over time. Maybe you once loved the gym, but now the thought of stepping into one makes you cringe. Explore new options for your workouts. Use videos at home for strength training, add a morning yoga session, run outdoors, and use web-based tools like the MyFoodDiary forum to get the support and encouragement you need to stick with it.

Create a well-balanced plan.

Well-balanced exercise programs become increasingly important with age. As flexibility and muscle mass decrease and metabolism slows down, each component of an exercise program plays a critical role. Be sure to include both cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and regular strength training. Consider combining the two in a challenging circuit workout to save time. End your sessions with a full-body cool down stretch, or include yoga or Pilates in your plan to maintain balance and flexibility.

Set goals.

Don’t leave your fitness plan open-ended. Exercising regularly for the rest of your life is the ultimate goal, but without a goal to shoot for in the near future, you may lose interest. Even something as simple as completing 20 standard push-ups in a row within the next two months can be enough to keep you on track. Once you accomplish a goal, set a new one and your exercise program will always be motivated by a purpose.

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