Before we discuss how to get back into shape, let’s talk about what happens when you get out of shape. If you haven’t worked out for 2 to 3 months, you have lost half of your aerobic fitness.
During your hiatus, your lung capacity to expand has shrunk, meaning you no longer breathe in the same volume of air, your blood vessels have contracted, meaning your heart is not moving as much blood through your circulatory system with each beat, and your muscles have lost a significant amount of their strength.
Starting Over Again
First, depending on why you quit working out to begin with, you may want to get cleared by your doctor to begin working out again, especially if your reason for quitting was due to pregnancy or an injury. Second, don’t expect to start up at the same intensity as where you left off. The good news is that your workouts will start to get easier in 2 – 3 weeks and by the 4 – 6 week mark, you’ll be back almost to the fitness level when you stopped exercising.
Now it is more important than ever to do a good warm-up before getting into your workout routine; the same with cool-down. Take the time to devote to these pre- and post-workout activities that should include light aerobic exercise and dynamic stretching. What you don’t want to do is suffer a debilitating injury that could delay you even longer from getting back into shape.
The Process of Getting Back Into It
During the first couple of weeks go light; start working out 2 to 3 days per week for 30 minutes each time. Gradually increase the number of days you exercise and the duration of your workouts until you can go up to 45 minutes each time.
If you are strength training, start with only half the weight you once used and half the number of repetitions; gradually start adding on more weight and increasing the repetitions.
If you run, get back into it by walking briskly for 30 to 45 minutes. In the beginning, insert a 1 minute jog/slow run into every 4-5 minutes of walking. As time goes on, run more and walk less. Before long you’ll be running 45 minutes without walking. You’re back!
Do Something Different This Time
People stop exercising for various reasons; if you stopped because of boredom, decide to take up some other form of exercising. Instead of running, try biking. If you like to run outside but can’t due to extreme weather either buy your own treadmill or join a gym so you can run inside.
Sometimes all you need is an exercise buddy. Not only will that person keep you motivated and accountable, it is good friendship and gives you something to do while exercising.
The important thing to remember when starting back on an exercise program after a long break is to start slow, warm-up/cool-down and gradually work up to where you were (or even better). You didn’t get into shape overnight the first time, nor should you expect to this time.