Returning to Exercise After Inactivity - A Post-Quarantine Guide

Across our state and the country at large, Americans are preparing to emerge from quarantine returning not only to jobs, but also to their exercise routines. Moreover, some have discovered the need for exercise during their isolation and will begin brand new programs soon. Before you jump (back) in, take a moment to think about and include these 3 important items into your plan.

1. Yes. You should have a plan.

While you may have been setting PRs at your gym prior to its closing, if you’ve been away from those same exercises for the last 6-8 weeks, it would be prudent to measure your current level of fitness as your first step. Many of us don’t have a full compliment of equipment, especially weights and racks at home. Just a few weeks of inactivity or reduced level of strain can lead to de-training effects. This article published in Runners World in April 2020 outlines the deleterious effects of a lack of cardiovascular training measures after just 4 weeks of very little exercise among marathoners. The American College of Sports Medicine reports in “Primary Care Sports Medicine,” a swift detraining effect including a significant reduction in work capacity after only 2 weeks of exercise cessation. It is important to note that it would take several months to lose all training progress made over a period of years.

2. Take it slow.

It is going to feel amazing getting back to our gyms with our friends whether we start back at 100% of pre-quarantine levels or at 85%. Take a couple of weeks or a month to ramp back up. Because while it may be a cliché, exercise and fitness is a lifestyle, in the long run a month is the equivalent of a hiccup.

3. Before beginning (or re-beginning as it were) an exercise program, check with your healthcare provider.

This has been an excellent time to pay closer attention to those nagging aches that we’ve all tried to ignore. No doubt, combined with some additional rest and reduced strain, we’re feeling pretty good! All the physiological indicators as well as mental health and overall feeling of well-being means we need to get back to moving and challenging our movement through exercise. If you have an underlying medical condition, getting a checkup from your doc to know exactly where you stand (blood tests, etc.) is a good idea. Likewise, if you have had a recurring movement condition, getting a checkup from your PT to prevent that next flare up is also a good idea.

While running, biking, and outdoor activities – given appropriate social distancing measures – have been largely uninhibited since early March, gym-based activities have mostly stopped. Whether that means weight training, yoga, boot camp classes, martial arts practice, or something else, maintaining fitness has been a serious challenge. Following these simple guidelines will make your return successful and help prevent an injury that could sideline you for even longer.

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