How To Start Exercising Again
I’ve had to learn how to start exercising again a couple times in my life — mainly after injuries that left me sidelined for a couple months. The most humbling returns to exercise that I’ve had, however, have definitely been after having my children. I’m someone who likes to exercise with intensity — running half marathons, doing CrossFit, anything that gets me sweaty and super tired. That’s not the best recipe when coming back from injuries, having babies, or even just starting back after an extended break. More than anything, it’s a mental challenge for me, so I wanted to share some tips that have helped me as I start exercising again.
Check your ego
This is the biggest barrier for me when learning how to start exercising again. It’s very easy for me to compare where I am now with where I used to be, and given the many different seasons of life, we aren’t all going to be at our peak physical condition all the time. You have to remind yourself that just because last time you exercised consistently you were running five miles or squatting 100+ pounds, it doesn’t mean that you can jump right back into it. Doing too much too soon can lead to imbalances and injuries that will prevent you from moving forward for even longer.
It’s HARD. For me, it’s often harder than working out in general. Remind yourself that it’s a process and you’ll get there. One thing to note is that if you do have previous exercise experience, the time it takes you to return to a previous level (if that’s your goal) is generally shorter than for someone who is brand new to exercise.
Find positive reasons
A mentality I have always maintained is that exercise should be done to celebrate your body, NOT punish it. Do not exercise to “work off” or “earn” food. We need to eat food to live. Food shouldn’t be a part of why we choose to move our bodies. Exercise because you CAN. Every time I had to sit out because I was injured, I realized how lucky I was to be able to exercise at all, so when I returned I was always much more grateful for the movement I was able to do.
Exercise for your health — not only physical, but mental. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt stressed, overwhelmed, or just blah and going out to exercise really helped my mindset afterwards. Whatever your positive reason is, use that over any negative one because then you’ll actually be able to find the joy in movement.
Do what you can
Don’t push yourself harder than you need to. Simply do what you can. As I start running again after this second pregnancy, I’m nowhere near where I used to be in my abilities. I can run for a little bit, then have to stop and walk to catch my breath. I try and go out for an hour and do what I can. As long as I’m moving my body in some capacity for that hour, I take it as a win.
Make it a game
Another way I make coming back to exercise tolerable is to make it a game. For me, I’m easing back into running, so while I’m outside I try and find markers or milestones to get to before taking a break. Maybe I’ll run to the next mailbox and then walk to the following one. Sometimes it’s a tree. If you’re not running or don’t have physical markers, maybe do something by time. Do something for 30 or a minute, then take a break for a set period of time. It helps the overall time go by faster.
Rest is just as important as exercise. It’s how your body rebuilds and becomes stronger after physical stresses. If you’re trying to figure out how to start exercising again, start slowly. If you’ve been sedentary, start with just one day a week. As you increase your activity you can add on days, but don’t jump right back into things five days a week. Take it slowly.
Something is better than nothing
This was something that I had a hard time understanding when I was younger. I lived with very black and white thinking, so I felt that either I had to give my all several days a week or do nothing at all. There was no in between.
Remember, taking a 15 minute walk is better than spending the whole day on the couch. I remind myself of this whenever I get outside, but can’t run nonstop for an hour straight. If I had never gone outside, I would have either been sitting on the couch for that hour or in front of a computer. Something is always better than nothing.
Postpartum exercise resources:
- A GUIDE TO SAFE EXERCISE DURING PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM
- PELVIC FLOOR THERAPY: WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU NEED IT
- BEST RESOURCES FOR PREGNANT AND POSTPARTUM FITNESS
- I’m also including this link for the Postpartum Exercise Guide from Expecting and Empowered. I have the guide and it’s incredibly comprehensive both educationally and week-by-week for how to safely get back into exercise postpartum. I HIGHLY recommend it if you’re not sure where to start. Also, using the code ERINSINSIDEJOB will get you $10 off ANY of their guides. This also makes a great gift if you know someone who is looking to safely get back into exercise postpartum.
These are things that have helped me; what are some of your tips on how to start exercising again? Let me know in the comments!