With months of lockdown and gyms closed, many of us have struggled to stay active in 2020. To make sure this doesn’t extend into 2021, we’ve put together some tips for how to get yourself back into a good exercise routine after lockdown. On your marks, get set, go!
Gradually increase your activity levels
After you’ve had some time off from exercising, don’t expect to jump back into where you were before lockdown. Remember that doing any kind of exercise is far better than doing nothing, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re doing less than you hoped.
That said, it’s important to be realistic with your expectations so that you don’t end up pushing your body too hard and injuring yourself, or get frustrated and give up completely.
If your activity levels have dropped off completely since lockdown and working from home, then start off by making sure you go on at least one walk a day. It might not sound like a lot but even just 30 minutes of walking per day can improve your cardiovascular fitness, boost muscle power, and strengthen your bones, so it’s a good starting point.
Building on those foundations, you can then do a few runs each week or home workouts to start gradually increasing your fitness.
Look after your diet
It’s not just lack of exercise that has left many of us feeling out of shape during lockdown — takeaways, snacks, and sweet treats are all too tempting, especially when it’s cold outside. But to get back on track and support your body as you start exercising again it’s important to focus on a healthy diet.
Not only do you need to eat enough fruit and vegetables each day — your diet needs to include carbohydrates, protein, and the right type of fat so that you’re giving your body the vitamins and minerals it needs. Carbohydrates are a key source of energy for your body and should make up between 45-65% of your daily calorie intake, but you need to choose complex carbohydrates found in beans, whole grains, as well as fruit and vegetables.
Cut down on sugar-heavy food and drinks as well, and reduce your intake of saturated fats found in things like hard cheese, cakes, biscuits, and pies. Foods such as oily fish and avocados are sources of healthier unsaturated fats.
Improving your eating habits is going to make you feel much better overall and give you the energy you need to get back into exercising. It’s also important to drink enough water and stay hydrated before and after you do any exercise. Although afterwards you may need to replenish your body with electrolytes, so look out for sports drinks that contain them and also include things like potassium and calcium.
If you’re still feeling extremely low on energy you might be deficient in certain vitamins or nutrients, which means you need to make other adjustments to your diet and consider taking additional vitamins. For example, if you’re feeling tired and breathless then one of the causes could be a lack of folate in the diet, which could be tackled by eating foods such as spinach, lentils, or broccoli, or by taking l-methylfolate to boost your levels.
Get back into an Exercise routine
One of the best ways to get back into the habit of exercising regularly is to incorporate it into your daily routine. This way, it doesn’t seem like a big deal and quickly just becomes part of your day. Set your alarm half an hour earlier and give yourself a bit of time to do a home workout before you start work each day, or start going for a run on your lunch break every other day. It’s important to find a way to exercise that fits into your schedule so that it becomes a habit rather than a chore that you end up putting off.
Make Exercise fun
The key to sticking with exercise long term is finding something that you actually enjoy. If you really hate going to the gym then just don’t go. It’s not the only way to exercise and for some people, it just doesn’t suit them.
There are plenty of different activities, including cycling and dancing that will increase your fitness levels that you may enjoy more. And if you’re doing exercise that you enjoy you’ll be far more motivated to get on and do it — you’ll look forward to it instead of dreading it.
Track your progress
Something else that can really help with getting back into exercise is to use a fitness app that tracks your progress. By logging what exercise you do and when it can help keep you accountable and motivate you to carry on.
You can also use the activity tracker in the Everyone Active profile area to help you keep an eye on your progress along your fitness journey.
Some apps such as Strava and Fitbit will even let you share what you’ve been doing with other users so you can compete with friends, which adds even more motivation. Or if you need a bit of extra help to get started with something like running then there are many ‘Couch to 5K’ apps that guide you through building up your fitness.
As part of your Everyone Active membership, you also get access to Everyone On Demand. This is a suite of four workout apps gives you the opportunity to exercise wherever you are, as long as you’ve got your device with you. Everyone On Demand comprises four apps: Les Mills on Demand, Flex, EXi and WithU, each of which offers something slightly different.
The most important thing to remember when you’re trying to get back into exercise is to take it slowly and look after yourself. It might take some time to get back to your previous fitness levels but it’s worthwhile being patient to ensure you stick with it and don’t hurt yourself.