The past 12 months or so have taken their toll on all of us. Plenty has been said about the impact that lockdown and the restrictions that surround it have had on us psychologically. But many have found it challenging to maintain physical fitness levels, too.
If the gym closures and the reduced opportunities for getting out and about have left you a little out of shape, you’re not alone. Here, we provide some tips for getting back into good habits now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – or even for getting properly in shape for the first time!
Manage your own expectations
If you were exercising regularly before lockdown and have done little or nothing for the past 12 months, the temptation will be to try to pick up where you left off. The truth is, that’s liable to end in disaster and could just put you out of action for another month or two. It doesn’t matter if you were running 10K or working out with 5KG weights 12 months ago.
Treat this as a new beginning, and if you start easy, muscle memory will not take long to return. As a rule of thumb, drop everything by 50 percent when you return after a break, whether it is the weight you are lifting, the distance you are running or the number of reps.
Remember to rest
If you follow the “50 percent” rule, you will inevitably be keen to progress. Do it sensibly, by incrementally stepping things up again, and you’ll be back to pre-lockdown levels in as little as four weeks. The key word here is “sensibly” though. We are all different and there is no hard and fast rule, so it is vital that you listen to your body.
In particular, don’t forget to rest. The periods between workouts or runs are when the muscles recover and strengthen, so it’s vital that you allow them to do so. Rest doesn’t have to mean lying on the sofa in front of the TV. Try incorporating some “active rest” activities, such as getting out for a walk or cycling instead of driving when you need to pop into town.
Don’t stint on the nutrition
Chances are, reduced fitness has been accompanied by an increased waistline. Adopting a more healthy diet as part of your bid to get into shape makes a lot of sense. But again, don’t overdo it. It’s vital to give your body the right fuel, especially as you step up the exercise regime.
So by all means cut out the bags of crisps, but replace them with a snack that will optimize your body’s ability to manage the increased workload. That’s something we know plenty about here at Focused Nutrition, so we might have just the thing!
Enjoy the new beginning
Spring is in the air, and there’s also a sense of hope and optimism after some dark times. There really is no better time to get back into shape. So the most important advice of all is to savour your exercise time and enjoy the experience.