Gym time, anyone? We get it, exercise seems like a tall order right now, as we ease out of the comfort zone that is our homes, where we have sought refuge (mostly on the couch!) from COVID-19-related woes. But with Singapore in Phase Two of the plan to lift restrictions and achieve a new normal, gyms and other health and wellness facilities are open once again, with social distancing measures in place.
With parks, fitness studios, playgrounds, sports halls, beaches and swimming complexes up and running, there really is no excuse to avoid exercising. If you’re feeling daunted, you’re not alone. Exercising again after a period of inactivity will be challenging, but there are things you can do to help yourself and ease your way back into your workout groove.
Make a plan, set smart goals
It’s good to be eager, but before jumping into the gym with both feet, it’s best to make a plan and lay down some specific, achievable and timely goals. “Be healthy” or “get fitter” is too vague; “be able to do a pull-up by Christmas” or “cycle to (insert specific destination) and back in one day” are much more specific and make planning much more streamlined.
To help you plan, measure your progress and achieve results, you might want to use a notes application to record things or download a fitness app to track your progress. Or if you prefer, you can hire a personal trainer who will tailor your workout to your specific needs and goals.
Don’t go wild, ease into it
Your body will feel it when you exercise again after a break, even if it hasn’t been that long. To give your body the best chance of recovery after workouts, take it easy with a slow but steady approach. You don’t want to injure yourself because of overexertion.
Start with some stretching. While that might not sound like a lot in terms of physical activity, you’ll be surprised—a good overall body stretch or a yoga routine—can make feel muscles in places you forgot you had muscles. Stretching will make your muscles supple and ready to work out, while yoga will contribute to overall strength, flexibility and balance.
Cardio first, then strength
A good way to progress is to focus on picking up your cardio before jumping straight into serious strength training. Get moving, get your blood pumping—it’s good for your heart!
You can start with anything, like a light jog or even a brisk walk, and then work your way up into doing the cardio of your choice, such as a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout. Once your body has gotten used to the activity, you can ease into strength training. Again, make sure that you don’t just jump back into where you left off before, take it easy and begin with fewer repetitions of exercises, or modified versions of exercises.
Rest is important, too
Health and fitness experts stress the importance of having rest days from working out, to give aching muscles time to recover. It’s a myth that spending more time exercising leads to better fitness—it’s about working out smartly and making sure you plot rest days into your routine.
Giving your muscles some downtime is just as important as working them out, as overtraining can cause muscle soreness and fatigue. Your body needs to recharge, and you know you can’t say no to rest days!
Change it up, make it interesting
You don’t always have to go to the gym or do the same workout. In fact, experts say that it’s good to change your exercises from time to time, so that your body doesn’t get used to the same movements over and over again.
Besides varying your workouts—which won’t be hard, as there are a plethora of exercises videos and guides available in apps and online—why not include different types of physical activity into your routine? Best of all, you can cater it to your interests and have fun while getting fitter. Activities like mountain hiking, cycling or swimming would make great alternatives to hitting the gym. The point is to keep moving and make a lifestyle out of being active. /TISG