Five tips for getting back into exercise

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, many of us adjusted our routines and did at-home workouts or online fitness classes.

Of course, others gave up on exercise altogether, except perhaps for a daily walk outdoors. But as the restrictions have now eased, it's time to get back into a regular routine. Read on for a round-up of ideas for getting back into exercise.

Set realistic goals

If you've taken a long break, don't expect to be at the fitness levels you were at before.

"Don't try and get back into the swing of things straight away as it will make it much harder. If your goal is to be able to run five kilometres, why not start with the couch-to-5k app, which breaks it down into manageable steps? You can work up to longer work-outs," advised Penny Weston, director of award-winning Moddershall Oaks Country Spa Retreat and founder of MADE wellness centre. "Ultimately, healthy adults should be aiming for 150 minutes of exercise a week but you can take time to work up to this as you don't want to risk injury by doing too much too soon. Basically, just take it slow. Low-intensity workouts are a good way to reintroduce the body to exercise again and then you can increase the intensity in a few weeks."

Know beginner exercises

It's always good to make sure you know the basics, such as squats, lunges and planks as these are used in many workouts so learn these first to build a good foundation.

"Make sure you spend time stretching before and after your workout. This will help ease you back into exercise and also help prevent injury. I recommend starting with some dynamic stretches, such as leg swings and hip rotation and finishing with cooldown stretches, such as hamstring and tricep stretches," added Penny.

Get inspired

Rather than going to the same gym classes, push yourself to try something new.

"You don't have to go to the gym," she noted. "Exercise should be about finding something you enjoy doing. A workout doesn't have to be running for hours or lifting huge weights at a gym, the key is experimenting until you find something you enjoy and is a suitable level for you. Why not try swimming or yoga?"

Make a schedule

"If you plan your workout and pop it in your diary, you're more likely to make it happen," the expert insisted. "Often, we are subconsciously looking for an excuse not to do a workout and will find plenty of other things to do but if you know you've scheduled it in, you can plan around it, even if it's a quick 15-minute HIIT session or a quick walk outside."

Include rest days

Recovery is part of being active as when you take a day off, your body uses that time to repair itself after the workout you've been doing.

"Rest days are really key to long-term health and help avoid injury," she shared. "Listen to your body too... it will tell you when it needs a rest day!"