Bouncing Back from a Fitness Break

Medically reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on June 18, 2013Written by The Healthline Editorial Team
two women talking in fitness class

No matter how dedicated you are to working out, most of us face a challenge at one time or another that puts us off our routine. Perhaps you recently suffered an injury or illness, or maybe simple busyness has interfered with your fitness schedule.

Whatever the reason, it can be challenging to start working out again after a long break--but it is possible. With a positive attitude and just a little perseverance, you can get active again.

Start Slowly
If you are accustomed to exercising regularly, it can be tempting to jump back into your workout routine, right where you left off. But if you restart your fitness program at the same pace and level of intensity from before your hiatus, you'll put yourself at risk for injury. It's important to take the time to build your fitness level back up gradually; otherwise, you may find yourself on the sidelines again.

For example, if you were accustomed to riding a stationary bike for 45 minutes per day, five days per week, before you took time off, start with about a quarter of that distance and half of the time, for the first two weeks. This would mean biking only 10 minutes per day, three days a week, to start.

If you're able to complete that distance easily after two weeks of working out, then boost your activity level to 20 minutes per day, and add an extra day of exercise. Stick with that schedule for two weeks, and then consider reaching for your pre-hiatus workout time and pace. Listen to your body, and if you feel that you need to build up more gradually, simply modify the schedule as needed. Eventually, you will likely be able to complete your former workout with relative ease.

Think Moderation
You may have a favorite type of exercise, like jogging, swimming, or inline skating; however, you may need to set your sights a bit lower when you're first recovering from a break. Instead of starting your regimen with the same activities that you had been doing prior to your time away, consider easing back into your workouts. Moderate exercises like walking can help your body adjust to activity again.

During the first two weeks after your hiatus, consider if it might be better for your body if you stick to walking. You can start by simply going for a brisk walk for 20 to 30 minutes per day. If you want to ramp up faster but still stay safe, begin your workout with 10 minutes of walking before doing other activities. This will give your muscles a chance to warm-up before you start more vigorous forms of exercise.

Find a Workout Buddy
Are you feeling glum about losing a bit of your strength or endurance power? A workout partner might be just what you need to pull you out of your slump. Working out with a buddy can provide you with moral support as you start to regain your fitness level.

Exercising with someone else can also make physical activity more enjoyable. Ask friends, family members, or colleagues whether they might like to join you in your bounce-back efforts--and let the fun begin!

HealthAhead Hint: You Can Bounce Back
Returning to fitness after some time away can be challenging and frustrating. But with patience and a little effort, it is possible to get active again after an extended break. If you start feeling discouraged, just remind yourself that it takes time to return to your previous level of fitness. Keep trying: If you stick with it, you can bounce back to your original routine stronger than before.

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