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How to get back into exercise, according to people who’ve taken a break too

Laura Hill is an avid runner but knows that time out from exercise can make you feel like you’re on the back foot. Here’s how to get moving again, in a way that won’t overwhelm the body, but will build its strength. 

We all know that we should exercise regularly, but sometimes, quite unexpectedly, we find ourselves on an extended break from physical activity

Whether it’s because of injury, sickness, caring responsibilities or work, having time away from exercise can happen to anyone. Covid hasn’t helped. Research shows that there’s been a 25 per cent reduction in national physical activity levels, and a 35 per cent increase in physical inactivity/sedentary behaviour, since the pandemic

So, if you want to start running, get back into Pilates or play tennis again, but are struggling in the motivation department, then here are five tips from readers to help you make your first move. 

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Find joy in any type of movement 

Sports Physiotherapist, Lululemon ambassador and co-founder of [Mo]re than a run, Alex Bell, says this year has been tough for him. 

“I completed 30km for [Mo]re than a run to fundraise for Movember last year. I contracted Covid in early January and suffered from long Covid. I couldn’t run or train for around four months and this impacted me greatly.”

Bell said a great coping strategy was to find joy in other forms of activity. “Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, think about what you can do, and start there. I started lifting weights and cross-training before I started running again.”

Ask yourself why?

Another tool Bell uses is to reflect on and come back to your why? “Why do you want to start exercising again?  Who are you exercising for?  And is your intention a positive one?” 

Setting positive intentions will help to keep you going when things get tough.

“I run for myself and run to support my physical and mental health. If that means I’m not running as far right now I’m okay with that,” says Bell. 

Start slow 

Jess Eshak, co-founder of CO-PILOT Apparel, a genderless workout range, admits that it can be frustrating when you can’t exercise because of injury. 

“I’ve had injuries that meant I needed to take a long break,” says Eshak. “When injury eliminates most forms of exercise you enjoy, it can be very challenging to find the motivation to start over.”

“When you’re ready and able to exercise again, start slow and choose something that is easy to do. If going for a swim is too much, then go outside for a 10-minute walk or do some at-home yoga, just get moving. As soon as you start – even if it’s small – you’ll feel good and you’ll want to continue.”

Exercise with others 

Andrea Lung is a GP, parent and runner and says exercising with friends or joining a run crew and setting goals together can help keep you accountable and motivated.

“As a GP, I try to motivate patients to connect with other people and get moving.” 

Lung says that one of the best, free activities available to people of all levels of fitness and abilities is Parkrun

“I’m involved in the Parkrun practice initiative, which encourages GPs to prescribe Parkrun to patients. Parkrun is a positive, welcoming and inclusive experience where there is no time limit and no one finishes last. Everyone is welcome to come along, whether you walk, jog, run, volunteer or spectate.”

Sign-up for support 

Getting expertly designed exercise and fitness workouts has never been easier or more affordable, thanks to the growth in health and wellness apps that can inspire, motivate, and support your return to exercise. If the idea of heading to the gym is a turn-off, then turn on your phone or tablet and sign up to one of these great fitness apps to help you exercise whenever and wherever you want. 

  • Apple Fitness+ – All you need is an iPhone to subscribe and access thousands of video and audio workouts – everything from HIIT to Yoga, and guided meditations. 
  • KIC – Unlock HIIT, strength, boxing, Pilates, yoga, meditations and pre and postnatal Pilates plus hundreds of delicious, healthy recipes at your fingertips.
  • Peloton – Try strength, yoga, cycling, running and more with no equipment required from your phone, tablet and TV.
Read related topics:Exercise

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