Working Out Post COVID
There are some things to think about when you’re easing back into a working out post COVID. Here are 11 things to keep in mind as you kick-start.
1. Don’t overdo it right away.
Doing too much too soon can overwhelm you mentally. A rigorous routine may eventually feel like too much to deal with, which in turn makes you feel defeated. Understand that you’re probably not going to be as fit as you were, and that’s OK.
You can start with just 10 minutes a day, the goal is just to get moving more. After a week or two, you can bump up the intensity, as long as you’re not losing form.
2. Begin with what works for you.
Do you only feel comfortable committing to one day a week initially? Great! Mark it on your calendar and stick with it.
Don’t feel like you have to immediately start logging five to six gym workouts per week when working out post COVID. You can’t get to three to four days a week without mastering day one, so just start. The body responds to consistency over time, so your results will come much faster if you can keep a regular pattern and frequency.
3. Make sure your workouts include three key components.
When you’re getting back into fitness, your exercise plan should include components of cardiovascular endurance, resistance training, and flexibility. Combined, all three components will give you the most longevity with your goals. Always remember to go at your own pace and listen to your body.
4. Don’t forget to rest.
Recovery is part of being active. When you take a day off, your body isn’t. It’s actually working very hard to repair and replenish itself after all the work you put it through. Rest days are key to long-term wellness. This is a lifestyle you’re creating now, so be realistic about your frequency.
5. Always warm-up and cool-down.
A good warm-up preps your body for an increase in activity and a cool-down allows your heart rate to return to a normal resting rate. Don’t cut corners here: Muscles that have not been accustomed to strenuous activity for sometime will experience some form of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), which basically means you are going to be tight and achy for 24-72 hours after your workout. (You may also experience this is you work out regularly but up your intensity.) A proper cool-down session can reduce some of this soreness.
Speaking of tightness, stretching is especially important when you’re getting back into a fitness routine. A good warm-up includes dynamic stretches. And when you are done working out, finish with some more stretches.
7. Focus on your form.
Quality trumps quantity, especially when you’re just getting back into fitness. Slow down. Be deliberate and conscious of your movements. Take the time to focus on your form, on your breathing, on your control. This is extra important because proper technique and form are crucial for avoiding injury.
8. Listen to your body.
Chances are, your body is going to let you know that it’s working hard, but learn the difference between hurts-so-good and hurts-not-so-good. If something feels weird or gives you pain, stop doing whatever that is. There’s actually a not-so-fine line between muscle discomfort from a good workout, and pain lets you know something’s not right.
9. Don’t skip sleep.
Working out is ‘work’—it takes more time and energy, so you might feel fatigued initially because you are burning more calories and the body is trying to adapt to the increased stresses in the tissues. So, it’s OK to tuck in a little early and hit snooze on some days…your body will thank you.
10. Find a friend who keeps you motivated.
Workout buddies unite! Find a friend who is already working out and has a routine. That person can be a key motivator. If you’d rather share the starting line, find a friend who is also looking to get back into a regular routine. Together, you can keep each other motivated and accountable.
11. Set goals to keep you focused.
We recommend setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal–specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive. What is your goal in working out post COVID… to run a 5K? To feel stronger? Start there, then create a plan.
Remember, it’s OK to feel overwhelmed at times. Don’t get discouraged, you got this!