The benefits of exercise far outweigh the potential ‘risks’ of getting back to routine. Regular exercise helps keep our immune system in good shape to fight infections.
During the pandemic, many of us have been sedentary. While a lot of us working from home have missed out on even basic exercises, like walking, others have managed with daily walks, live Instagram workouts or isolated online exercise classes. Almost all of us are keen to improve our fitness and may want to return to the gym soon.
It is important to know, when we exercise less, our physical condition declines, which increases the risk of injury. Having spent several months being sedentary or with basic and sporadic exercises, we should start small when we make our way back to the treadmills, weight racks or intense workouts. Giving our body time to re-adjust is key.
Here is how you can ease yourself back into fitness
Set achievable goals: Set realistic goals to allow your body to adjust and to focus on re-establishing healthy habits and routine. If 21km was your longest non-stop running distance pre-pandemic, know that you should start with 2km, building gradually to reach 21km over 2-3 months. Attempting even a 10km run out-right will result in knee or ankle injuries.
Extended Warm-up: It is important to warm up before you start any exercise. Muscles will be more susceptible to injury without such warm-ups, especially if you have done little exercise during the lockdown. Taking more time than you usually would to warm up, and prepare for your workout, will further improve your technique and mobility.
Hydrate well: Our body is 60% water. To maintain a healthy level of hydration, it is recommended for women to consume 2.7 litres and men to consume 3.7 litres daily. Around 80% of this intake would come from water/beverages while 20% may come from food. When re-entering a fitness routine our body will require more hydration than usual. Water carries oxygen to the cells of our body and enables it to work longer and harder. Drinking water not only prevents cramping and lubricates our joints, but also improves our performance and helps with recovery.
Other factors: Poor sleep, stress, nutrition, alcohol intake, our history of exercise and many other factors can affect our body’s response and its risk of injury. As we ease back into training, it is important to acknowledge these factors that play an equally important role in realising our fitness goals. Healthy, nutritious, and preferably home-cooked meals, eight hours of quality sleep, meditation, and regular workouts will help us maintain a balance.
Remember, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the potential ‘risks’ of getting back into the routine. Regular exercise helps keep our immune system in good shape to fight infections. Our enthusiasm just needs to be tempered with a realistic view of our current condition, not the memory of our past fitness. Pace yourself and take things gradually. It might feel like you are taking baby steps at first, but you will be surprised at how quickly you will regain your fitness.
Start small, stay consistent!
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