If you’re looking to get back to a regular exercise routine after many months off, it’s important to make sure you take things slow and change up your routine often. Developing a healthy balance of cardiovascular, strength and resistance training as well as core stability work will improve your musculoskeletal health as well as helping your overall health whilst preventing injury.
Here are a few ways to get moving again without injuring yourself, especially when you are older:
1. Progress slowly
It’s best to gradually return to activity so you don’t overdo things or injure yourself. A staged approach, where you slowly introduce different exercises, will allow your muscles to recover between each session. For example, starting with a short walk that then gets longer and progresses to a hill or rougher terrain allows for slow and persistent challenges for your body to become accustomed to while still helping you stay interested in exercising.
2. Reduce the time you spend sitting
Long periods of sitting, if you have had to isolate or if you are working from home, significantly reduces muscle activity – and therefore muscle mass. So if you haven’t kept exercising during the pandemic, you can’t expect to pick up where you left off. Take frequent breaks between meetings and introduce a walk at lunch. Stretching and moving around after long periods of sitting prevents fatigue and shortening of muscles – which can improve posture and balance, too.
3. Shake up the exercises you do
Intense repetition of the same movement or activity can cause wear and tear, often referred to as repetitive strain. This is why it’s important to do different exercises, instead of the same thing every day. Alongside cardio workouts, which have benefits for our heart, lung and circulatory system, try strength training.
Challenging our muscles as we get older with weight lifting and resistance training not only improves neuromuscular function – the communication between the brain and muscles – but improves balance and mobility too. Taking part in exercises that work your cardiovascular system as well as strengthen muscles improves overall wellbeing.
4. Work on the small things
It’s important to work on our big prime muscles – such as our glutes or quads – with walking, running and gym exercises. But it’s just as important to work on our small postural muscles too. For example, the small intrinsic muscles in our feet play an important role in improving strength and balance. Gripping a soft ball between your toes is an easy way to improve these small foot muscles. Having stability within the joints of your body from postural muscles also allows for these big muscle groups to do their job when walking, running or at the gym. Paying attention to these core postural muscles with activation and control exercises will help prevent injury.