Fall is the perfect time to fall in love with fitness and for some, back in love with fitness. Even the most committed athletes and gym enthusiasts need a break. Whether it’s sickness, injury or simply the need to recover mentally, it’s okay to take some time off from working out. But the longer your hiatus, the harder it is to get back into the swing of things not only physically, but mentally.
In regards to your physical losses, your endurance will fade more quickly than your strength. According to a Journal of Applied Physiology study, endurance runners’ VO2 max, or their lung capacity, declined by 15 percent after almost two months of detraining. On the plus side, these runners’ still had higher lung capacities after 84 days of detraining than individuals who lived sedentary lifestyles.
On the other hand, after a year hiatus, subjects still maintained half the strength they acquired from their training.
But perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome after a break is that first step back into working out, so here are some tips for taking back control of your health:
Start off slow. According to the Daily Burn, the more time you’ve taken off, the slower you should take your workout. If your hiatus was a few weeks to a month, begin your first week back by performing half of your normal load and/or duration. After that first week, you’re safe to go back to your normal routine as long as your break wasn’t due to illness or injury. If your break was longer, you’ll need to work your way up again. Whatever you do, don’t immediately pick up where you left off. Chances are you’ll injure yourself.
Work on your flexibility. Seriously, it will help you prevent injury. Whether it’s yoga or some other type of flexibility training, be sure to work it in to your routine in the beginning.
Make SMART goals. Nothing is more discouraging than feeling like you’ll never reach your goal. This is only worsened when you don’t have a realistic goal in mind. You’ve probably heard of SMART goals in a business setting, and the same thing applies to fitness. SMART fitness goals are also specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
Remember that progress is progress. Remember that every workout is a step in the right direction. Whether it’s a full-blown HIIT routine or a brisk walk, everything counts. Check out Buzzfeed’s motivational tips, they’ll put everything in perspective.