By Mel Sim

Here’s how to do it safely and effectively.

Prior to having kids, I was a pretty active person. I ran, cycled, swam and even rock climbed regularly. Then came kids and who had time to do anything, right? Plus, all that chasing after young children can be considered as exercise, no?

Earlier this year, I went for a thorough medical checkup at the insistent of my husband. I thought I was in great shape. I had actually lost some weight and granted, I slept less than I used to before children but I was still feeling energetic.

My results told me otherwise. In summary, I needed to lose body fat and get back into a regularly workout soon if I wanted to stay healthy.

But it’s been so long since I last put on my running shoes or did any kind of proper exercise! I did the occasional morning walks and even went for a 5km run once, but we all know that to really benefit from exercise, it’s something that needs to be done regularly.

However, after being MIA from exercise for so long, the body really needs to get used to it again… and to stay safe. Many people jumped into exercise after a long break without really considering that the body needs to get used to the idea of exercise. As a result, you end up with injuries.

To help ease myself back into any physical activities, I did some research. Here’s what I learnt.

#1 Go with something easy
Don’t jump straight into kickboxing or rock climbing or running marathons. Maybe not even carrying weights at the gym just yet. Try something gentle first like a brisk walk, just to get moving. Make your workout session into a routine and your body used to the exercise before you go the next level.

#2 30 minutes and under
Sure, it’s great creed to tell people that you were able to run for an hour straight but really, how much pain are you in right now? A long workout will be overwhelming not to mention not good for your body if you are just starting out again. Instead, commit to just 30 minutes and under, and that’s good too!

#3 Schedule it
If it’s not in the schedule, it’s not happening. The toughest part about getting back into exercise mode is not the actual exercise; it’s the actual getting up, going to the gym or the park, and doing the exercise. You need to get your mind in the zone first and the best way to do this is to put it in your calendar to block out a certain time to exercise. Mornings don’t work? Try evenings after work. Too busy during the week? A quick 15-minutes on the treadmill or rowing machine is better than nothing. Before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to your exercise routine.

#4 Prep the night before
Another way to get you motivated to move. Prepare your gear the night before, whether it is your running shoes or your swim gear. Pack it all in your bag and set the alarm. This will automatically put your mind in exercise mode because you set out with a plan to make it happen… and it will!

#5 Buy some new gym clothes
OK, so this probably has nothing to do with the exercise or motivation itself but we all get excited with new things and you’ll want to use them! If you are planning to run again, buy new shoes. Going to the gym? Get some new gym clothes. All that new and fun things will make you eager to start exercising.

#6 Think different
Even if you’ve always been a runner before you stopped, doesn’t mean that you have to be a runner again. The thing with exercise is sometimes it can get boring and mundane, which is a big reason why many people drop off the exercise bandwagon. If you need an extra push to get active, sign up for something new like yoga, dance classes or pilates – something you’ve never tried before – to get you excited and looking forward to new things.

I hope all these tips work as well for you as they did for me! I started brisk walking twice a week early in the morning and that really got my body to enjoy being active once more. Then I decided to move on to something more challenging and hit the pool. It’s been two months in and I’m now swimming three times a week, 45 minutes each time. That’s a huge achievement in my book for someone who’s been sedentary for a long time!

If anything, my best advice to you is to do it for yourself. Being fit and healthy should be about making you feel great about your body and giving you the clarity you need to focus better. Remember that your exercise time belongs to you and nobody else. So do what you enjoy and you’ll celebrate this win.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

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