Health & Fit How to Safely Return to Working Out After Taking Time Off

21:10  09 july  2020
21:10  09 july  2020 Source:   menshealth.com

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Your Personal PT, Rachel Tavel, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) at Shift Wellness in NYC, so she knows how to get your body back on track when it's out of line. In this weekly series, she gives you tips on how to feel better, get stronger, and train smarter.

a man sitting on a bench: If you haven't exercised for an extended period of time, you'll have to ease back into your routine. Here's how you can do so safely. © Lear Miller Photo - Getty Images If you haven't exercised for an extended period of time, you'll have to ease back into your routine. Here's how you can do so safely.

Whether you’ve been in complete lockdown mode in your home and barely moving during quarantine (besides the occasional trip to the fridge), or you’ve simply just fallen out of your usual exercise routine, many might be feeling the urge to get back into their fitness groove. But after several weeks or even months of not hitting the gym or your usual training regimen, you’re going to need to return to working out gradually and safely if you want to avoid hurting yourself.

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One of the easiest ways to injure oneself is to rush the process of returning to exercise, going too hard, too fast. This can often lead to overuse syndromes or injuries such as tendinopathies or shin splints. In fact, it takes only two to three weeks for you to lose that muscle strength you worked so hard to build for and just two weeks to lose some cardio fitness. But even a little exercise can keep this detraining effect at bay.

The good news? Your body is amazing, and as long as your general health hasn’t dramatically changed, implementing the right training regimen even after a period of inactivity can allow you to rebuild that strength and endurance you may have lost. But listen to your body as you go: You’ll want to push it so that you're gradually challenged, but not stressed. That can be a fine line, so pay attention to warning signals such as pain, tightness, or discomfort.

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Your Move:

a man wearing a hat: Portrait of male boxer standing by heavy bag in boxing gym © Thomas Barwick - Getty Images Portrait of male boxer standing by heavy bag in boxing gym

Gradually Increase Workout Duration and Intensity

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), you should begin with 20-60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity three to five days per week, with 20 to 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise.

What’s considered moderate? That can be slightly different for everyone. You should feel your heart rate increase, your breathing quicken without getting completely out of breath (you can speak without getting winded, but maybe not sing your favorite song), and you should break a light sweat after 10 minutes. This could be a quick walk, a light jog or a flat bike ride depending on your general health and fitness level.

After two to five weeks at this level of intensity, you can increase both the duration and intensity of your workout. Push yourself towards including bouts of vigorous intensity level—exercise that causes faster and deeper breaths (without hyperventilation or lightheadedness), earlier sweat development, and it’s harder to hold a conversation while exerting yourself.

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Gradually Increase Your Resistance

Begin with light or bodyweight exercises before progressing to larger resistance. Before you start challenging your body by loading more weight onto it, it needs to be able to handle the built-in loads you put on it. To build strength, you’ll want to start with 1 to 2 sets of 12 to 15 reps of exercises such as squats, push ups, or lunges. Eventually, you can add resistance that is enough that you feel fatigued after 12 to 15 reps, like you might not be able to do any more. Add these into your routine for three to five days per week, gradually increasing the resistance as your body gets comfortable with the loads you give it.

Incorporate Diverse Activities to Complement Running

If you are returning to running, you’ll want to make sure you’ve done some good stretching and strengthening exercises before pounding the pavement. Find a good glute strengthening routine, get some new kicks that provide the support you need, and begin a gentle stretching routine to make sure you’ve got the joint mobility you need for healthy movement and body mechanics. As you ramp up exercise, you’ll want to consider your nutrition and sleeping habits. Recovery is a big part of health, so make sure you are putting time aside to rest.

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a young man sitting at a table using a laptop: Exercise does a body good, but if you don't stretch properly, it can leave you feeling sore. Tight hips or hamstrings, back pain, or an achy chest and shoulders aren't just problematic for future workouts, they can make everyday movements like sitting in a desk chair downright uncomfortable. And if not fixed, over time this can limit your range of motion, leaving you prone to doing your workouts with poor form and possibly injuring yourself. Keep your joints healthy with these four flexibility exercises from Holly Roser, NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Holly Roser Fitness in San Matteo, CA. Each move targets a typical tight zone, helping to keep muscles loose and relieve any tension throughout the body. The only equipment you need is a mat, making this routine one you can easily do first thing in the morning or before bed.

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