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Fall Back into Shape after Summer
There are many reasons why you might stop working out for an extended period of time, including injury, giving birth, work, and that beautiful summer vacation! On returning to exercise, you may find that your body feels different and does not perform as it did before. You may also find that you are more likely to experience strain and injury. During a break from exercise, many changes in your body occur. Your lungs lose elasticity, which makes it harder to breathe and may result in side aches. Blood volume also decreases, causing vessels to become smaller and less efficient at pulling oxygen from the blood. This change requires your heart to work harder to provide muscles with oxygen, which creates a rapid heartbeat. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that you consult your doctor before returning to exercise if you have not exercised for three months or more. It is especially important to speak to your doctor if you suffer from any chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis. Your physician can advise you on the best ways to return to exercise and can offer support in your quest. Follow some tips to help you get back into shape after a break from exercise.
When returning to exercise after a prolonged absence, remember to start slowly. You can return to the same exercise you previously did, but at a lower intensity. For example, if you were a runner, return by starting with walking and building through a jog to a run. If you previously did weight training, reduce weights to around half of the weight you lifted before your break. Aim to work out two to three times per week and keep sessions less than 45 minutes for the first two to four weeks. Extend your warm-up and cool down to protect muscles and joints from injury. As your fitness builds, usually around the six-week mark, you can add more workouts per week and increase the time spent working out. You will know you are ready to progress when your workout routine is no longer challenging.
When choosing an activity to ease back into shape, choose one that you will enjoy and even look forward to. Find a friend to work out with you. You can keep each other accountable and on track. If you have a dog, consider daily walks — it’s good for both of you. Another way to enjoy working out is to catch up on your favorite television shows or read a good book while on the treadmill or stationary bike. Varying your routine and alternating activities can also keep your workout session fresh and exciting.
It will take time to build yourself back to the level of fitness you were at before your break, so don’t expect too much too soon. Your body is adaptive and will usually return to normal after six weeks of modified exercise. Resist the urge to push yourself in the beginning. Trust your body’s signals, such as fatigue, to let you know when you have reached your limit for each session. Do not wait until you are in pain to stop. Stop when you feel your muscles tiring. Pushing yourself can result in an injury, which will force you to again take time out from your workout routine.
COOLER WEATHER IS GREAT
FOR OUTDOOR EXERCISE
As autumn approaches, the crisp air is much better for outdoor exercise, especially running, hiking and cycling. In the heat of summer, you probably couldn’t exercise outdoors in the middle of the day, but as fall approaches, you can easily start taking lunchtime jogs or doing other outdoor activities once more.
TRY A NEW ACTIVITY
Since the kids are back in school, you may have more time to learn kickboxing, martial arts, aerobics or some other healthy activity you’ve often thought about trying. Start learning a new sport or activity now, spend all fall and winter doing it, and will be in much better shape by next spring. Also remember to vary your exercise routine. People often do the same exercises week after week, but after awhile your body gets used to them. In order to build muscle, you must consistently add new exercises to your workout routine. Try not to do the same type of exercises for more than two weeks. If you normally train each body part once a week, try training your arms, chest or legs twice a week for a while. Mix up your routine. Try to lift more weight over time. Variety is key to getting results. Keep a journal of your workouts so that you can track your progress.
Cut out high-fat foods and sweets if you want to lose weight. If you want to gain muscle, you need to add an additional 2,500 to 3,000 calories to your diet each week for each pound of muscle you hope to gain. Start out gradually by eating five to six smaller, high-protein meals each day instead of three large ones. While protein powders and multivitamins are good things to use, do not waste your money on too many nutritional supplements. Build your body with real, solid food.