You are seven months into the year 2020, and you’re beginning to realize that the constant conveyor belt of sweatpants and nighties have allowed an extra layer of fluff to cushion your waistline. Maybe you’ve some time to come to terms with the new normal of working from home or you’re just eager to shake off the inertia that has come with spending so much time indoors. Here are some fundamental tips for starting and maintaining a workout routine that will help you stay as healthy as possible through the pandemic.
Take a second to think about why you need this new routine
Are you tired of feeling tired all the time and looking to shed some extra weight? Or is this one step in your new ‘happier life’ plan to improve your overall wellness? Have you recently received a diagnosis that calls for a healthier lifestyle? Or are you trying to avoid diagnosis in the first place? Whatever your reasons for deciding to get some more activity in your daily routine, it’s a good idea to reflect on them to help you find an anchor for your motivation. Writing down your reflections in a journal or vision board is a great place to start.
Assess your current level of fitness
Having a definite starting point will help you to monitor your progress after you begin your journey to better health. Consider recording things like your BMI, waist circumference or your pulse rate before and immediately after walking a couple of kilometres. If you have a smartwatch or activity tracker, you can easily keep track of some of these health parameters. You can also calculate your BMI using various BMI calculating tools online – all you need to measure is your weight and your height.
Set your goals
Be very realistic. There are several online advertisements about weight loss products that claim that they can help you lose so and so pounds within a ridiculous (but admittedly appealing) amount of time. These methods are all too often unhealthy and unsustainable and will end up leaving you in worse shape than you started. If your goal is to help you train for a marathon or a hike, do your research to find out what kind of shape you need to be in. Map out how much time you need to achieve your goals and set practical objectives to help you make good progress.
Make sure you have all the equipment you need to properly execute your workout plan. Even if it’s as simple as getting a pair of trainers, make sure that you get a comfortable pair that suit your needs. Whether you need lighter running shoes or more supportive cross-training shoes, make sure you do your research so that you do not end up investing in something that you barely ever use. If you have comorbidities such as diabetes, arthritis or asthma, make sure you consult your doctor before you start any new exercise routine. You might need to have your anti-diabetic medications reviewed, stock up on gel for arthritis or have your lung function assessed. It is imperative that you do not skip a chat with your doctor as these and many other things may have to be addressed for your safety.
You might think that in order to challenge yourself, you have to go all-in with intense hour-long routines seven days a week. However, this is a surefire recipe for disaster. Not only can you injure yourself this way, but also you risk burning yourself out early when your muscles get sore and continuing with your routine just feels impossible. As you plan your workout routine, schedule days for less vigorous activities such as yoga and tai chi, and throw in a day or two where you take a break from exercising. As you gradually condition your body, your stamina will improve, and you can work your way up to exercising for thirty to sixty minutes a day on most days of the week. This will take time, so listen to your body and don’t push harder than necessary to achieve your fitness goals.
Monitor your progress
After about six weeks of your exercise program, record your health parameters again. If you’ve been consistent and have combined your workout routine with a healthy, balanced diet, you are more than likely to see that you’ve made some progress. Continue recording this progress every few months to keep yourself motivated and help you to recalibrate your objectives when necessary. At a point, you might find that you need to up your game to continue in the right direction. Avoid losing motivation by introducing some variety into your routine, setting new goals or inviting a friend or family member to join you in a new activity.
Introducing exercise into your daily routine does not have to be overwhelming. Take your time to plan and follow through with your objectives one day at a time, and you’ll be right on track to a healthier you.