By Alyssa Leonard

Have you given up on working out over the past year? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Thanks to COVID-19, many have admitted to taking an extended break from exercising. Gyms were closed, we had stay-at-home orders, and people transitioned to working from home and increased family responsibilities.

Many reported heightened stress levels and negative feelings of isolation due to social distancing and the pandemic, causing people’s mental health to plummet. It’s no wonder many people have put their exercise routines on the back burner.

You may be thinking about trying to get back into your old routine. But, if you’re not sure where to start, here are some mindful tips and tricks to help you get back into the rhythm.

Easing Safely Back Into Your Workout Routine
Don’t expect to be able to jump back into doing everything you used to immediately. If you’ve spent several months exercising less, or not at all, your body will not be used to that kind of movement anymore. Therefore, it’s important to manage your expectations and gradually work back up to your prior workout intensity. Try beginning at 50 percent of where you were before, then gradually increase each week. Spend some time rebuilding the basics with cardio, mobility work and compound movements. These guidelines will help you to avoid injuries and frustration from doing too much too soon.

If you find you need to start even more gradually, starting with something easy can be beneficial. For example, try following the “five-minute rule” — committing to just five minutes. More often than not, once you’re up and moving, you will feel better and want to continue. If not, then you can be done for the day.

Rebuilding Those Healthy Habits
It’s important for you to prioritize your rest and recovery. The last thing you want is to risk an injury that will delay reviving your post-lockdown routine even further.

First, focus on your sleep. Getting enough sleep is essential for your body to grow stronger from your training. You’ll want to aim for 8-9 hours of quality sleep as you increase your workout. Keeping a regular sleep schedule can also improve your health and quality of life.

Next, your diet. Eating a well-balanced diet will provide the fuel you need for getting back into shape. It’s time to ditch the fried and fatty foods we’ve let ourselves enjoy a bit too much this past year and eat more lean proteins, fibre, healthy fats and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also, don’t forget plenty of hydration. Before your workout, be sure to fuel up on the right balance of healthy carbohydrates and protein.

If all else fails, find yourself a workout buddy where you can hold each other accountable. A study published in 2009 in the European Journal of Social Psychology found it takes 18 days to eight months to form a habit. So, keep this in mind as you get back into things. Trying to keep up with your post-pandemic routine may be difficult at first, but as long as you keep at it, you will discover how quickly it becomes easier to manage and, eventually, part of your permanent lifestyle again.