Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne,EdgecliffMarrickville,Bella Vista, Randwick, Lindfield and Balmain are here to support you through your exercise and health journey – even if you are just getting started again.

Have you been stuck at home in lockdown mode and barely moved during these times of COVID (except for the occasional walk to the fridge)? Have you recently come off from an injury? Or maybe you’ve simply fallen out of your usual exercise routine. Whatever the reason, taking a break from exercise is something that happens to everybody during point of their lives.

Last week, I talked about the effects of 2 weeks inactivity on our body, so we know that our strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness and body composition may not be the same as it was compared to before the break. Now let’s talk about how we can build ourselves back up.

The good news is that our bodies are amazing at adapting. With the correct exercise regime, our bodies can regain the physical capacity it lost, especially if your health hasn’t changed too drastically after a period of inactivity. However, one of the easiest ways to injure ourselves is going too hard, too fast—that is, rushing the process of returning to exercise. Our minds and egos can get ahead of us and persuade us into trying to do the exact same thing we did 4 months ago. This can often lead to overuse syndromes and injuries such as muscle strains, tendinopathies and shin splints. The key is to ease the body into exercise so that we are gradually challenging it once again, but not overstressing it.

Step 1: Find why you stopped

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to first find out what made you stop exercising in the first place. There can be a lot of factors that come into play when thinking about your reasons—some unavoidable, some not. For example, you may not have been able to visit local gyms or go outside as often due to COVID. Or perhaps you started to exercise and lose weight for a wedding, but COVID put a stop to events so you didn’t see the need to exercise anymore. Maybe you lost motivation, didn’t see progress, or life just got too busy and you couldn’t fit it in.

Whatever the reasons are, identifying them can provide you with better understanding of yourself, your habits and let you look out for any recurrences of that obstacle in the future. Ultimately, your health is not just a short-term goal, but one you must maintain over the long-term.

Step 2: Start small

A general rule of thumb is to recommence at around 70% of your previous frequency, duration and intensity. For example, if you ran for 30 minutes 5 days a week, start again running at 20 minutes for 3 days a week. If you shoulder pressed 50kg, start again at around 35kg. Of course, this will vary depending on your previous physical capacity, your age, how long you went on break for. This decreased volume would help the body to acclimatise to exercise again and make it easier to adhere to as a routine. Speak to one of our Exercise Physiologists for a personalised approach on where to start exercising again!

Regardless, you went from no exercise at all to exercising every day of the week all of a sudden, your body will not be prepared to handle a sudden flooding of workload. Not only can this increase your risk of injury, also reduce your motivation to adhere to your plan and consequently relapse into inactivity.

Step 3: Set goals

Why did you decided to get back into exercise in the first place? Have a think about what you want to achieve out of returning to exercise and this will keep you going. Make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-based.

Here is an example of a SMART goal: Reduce waist circumference by 5cm in 6 months.

Here is an example of a goal that is not SMART: Get slimmer.

Set at least 2 SMART goals for yourself when returning to exercise serve as something to reach towards.
Step 4: Gradually increase duration, intensity and resistance

The ACSM recommends 20-60 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-5 days per week at a moderate intensity, combined with 2-3 resistance training sessions. A good way to gauge if you’re at a moderate intensity is when you feel like your heart rate is increasing and your breath is quickening, but you’re still able to talk (although maybe not sing your favourite song). If you are returning to exercise, it may be a good idea to start at the low end of those ranges. After at least 2-5 weeks at a certain level, you can increase the duration and intensity. This is where you can implement bouts of vigorous intensity exercise, where you’ll find it harder to talk, start sweating quicker and breathing faster and heavier.

With resistance training, it may be wise to start on the lower end of sets and rep ranges, working your way from 1-2 sets of 12-15 reps with a easy-moderate weight to 3 sets of 10 reps of a moderate-hard weight.

Step 5: Keep yourself accountable

Have some way of tracking your progress and adherence throughout your weeks. This is where a workout journal, fitness apps or your fitness watch may come in handy. Alternatively, you can seek an exercise partner to keep each other motivated and accountable.

Overall, the road to recommencing exercise is very broad. You may have notices big ranges in the numbers and the great number of factors that come into play depending on the individual. In order to get a safe, specific and personalised strategy for your return to exercise, speak to one of our Exercise Physiologists at Longevity and we will walk with you through each step to get you back on track.

Call 1300 964 002 to get the support of a Longevity Exercise Physiologist today.


Written By Jackie Cheung