Returning to Exercise Safely
Everyone can agree that exercise and eating right are helpful to improving mental health, improving physical health and reducing the risk of disease. With all that this pandemic has brought, keeping active and staying healthy are at their utmost importance right now. With businesses beginning to reopen and vaccine rollout underway, more and more people are heading back to the gym. However, getting back into activity too quickly can come with its own risks.
Jumping back into intense exercise after weeks or months of being sedentary can stress the body to the point of injury. If you do too much, too soon, you could be risking ligamentous, tendon and/or muscle injury. Here are some helpful tips on how to slowly get back into exercise:
Do a good warm up
- Perform a 5-10 minute warm-up at a lower intensity, to gradually build your heart rate. This can be walking/jogging on the treadmill, or performing body-weight exercises such as push ups or squats.
- Stretch! Generally, dynamic stretching (short periods of stretching/mobility performed during movement) performed after a short warm-up is better prior to exercise, and static stretching (positions held for 30+ seconds) is better for after exercise.
Start with lower impact activities
- Walking, biking and the elliptical machine are good options to increase your cardiovascular endurance without overstressing your joints. If you have access to a pool, swimming or pool walking is also a good option.
- If you want to get back into jogging/running, gradually build yourself up to your desired speed and time by walk/jog intervals.
- Perform light resisted exercises first, such as squats, lunges, wall push-ups, etc, and slowly build to weighted exercises as they become easier.
Ask for help
If you are unfamiliar with a piece of equipment, ask a gym employee before attempting.
- Make sure you are providing your body with enough calories to compensate for your increased activity.
- Eat a well-balanced diet to provide your body with enough nutrients to sustain a healthy lifestyle.