Over the past year and a half, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a major shift in how we all live our day-to-day lives. From the adoption of social distancing practices and the seemingly unending closing and reopening of local businesses, the pandemic has added additional barriers and challenges to those trying to maintain their physical fitness.
As many people are looking for ways to get back on the metaphorical horse of regular physical exercise, it can seem like an incredibly daunting task. But, with more physical fitness facilities finally reopened and with increased vaccination rates around the world, it seems like getting back to our previous fitness routines is finally a more achievable and realistic goal.
Here are some of our top tips for those looking to get back into regular exercise:
The Impact of COVID-19 on General Fitness
On January 9, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement about a “Mysterious Coronavirus-Related Pneumonia” that was impacting residents of Wuhan, China. With next to nothing known about the virus at this time, there was no way for our global community to prepare for what was to come in the following months.
Two months later, COVID-19 had spread across the world, resulting in state-wide lockdowns. With mandatory face masking, minimized capacity in busy public areas, work-from-home orders, and the closure of many gyms and fitness centers, these preventative measures caused major disruptions to people’s daily lives and fitness routines.
With limited availability to get outside, many people were no longer able to maintain their previous fitness regimes. One study found that on average, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders resulted in a decrease in all levels of physical activities, with about a 28% increase in time spent sitting or being sedentary. Combined with the increase in unhealthy eating habits likely due to stress and social isolation, the COVID-19 pandemic definitely had a negative impact on global general health and wellness.
For those who were looking for exercise options to replace the time they spent at the gym, many people turned to virtual options for home-based workouts. During these initial shutdowns, there was a massive surge in people downloading health and fitness apps, with an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide downloading and using these digital services to stay active. And while these virtual classes and apps were a great option for continued health during this time, many people quickly experienced burnout and a drop in their motivation to exercise as the lockdowns continued to persist.
Potential Roadblocks With Going Back to Your Fitness Routine
Now, as the pandemic has been a presence in our lives for over a year and a half, we thankfully have been able to reopen and use many public facilities like gyms and workout classes. And while this reopening of fitness facilities has been very helpful for many people looking to get back at it, many others are now experiencing feelings of anxiety and stress as they attempt to return to their previous fitness routines. Some of the most common reasons why people are hesitating to return to regular exercise routines in a fitness facility include:
- Feelings of inadequacy and the fear of lost strength — We’ve all had the experience of feeling like we don’t belong when we are working out at a crowded public gym. And while it is true that no one else at the gym is watching or even paying attention to how much you are lifting or how fast you are running, it can definitely feel that way — especially after prolonged periods of not working out. These feelings can be amplified when a person returns to the gym and is unable to do their previous workout routines as easily as they used to.
- Preference for virtual at-home workouts — With many fitness facilities feeling the pressure to offer digital services during the pandemic, lots of gym regulars have now gotten used to their routine of at-home classes and workouts. From online group classes to personalized 1-1 virtual training sessions, there are a variety of digital options that many people now prefer over returning to the gym.
- Stricter gym times and capacity limits — With country-wide reopening measures in place, a lot of public facilities still are running at limited capacity and require mandatory face masking to keep their patrons safe and healthy. And while these measures have been successful in limiting the number of people exposed to COVID-19, they also make working out at busy hours incredibly difficult to coordinate. Because of these limitations, many people are choosing not to return to the gym on a regular basis.
- Fewer in-person classes offered — While many people go to the gym to work out on their own, a big portion of people use these facilities for group-based exercise classes like spin, Zumba, and fitness boot camps. Because of capacity limits and the need to properly socially distance, a lot of group classes are either being offered to much smaller groups or are currently not being offered at all. This has had a dramatic impact on the number of people interested in returning to the gym for regular exercise.
6 Tips For Getting Your Fitness Back on Track
If you are looking to get back into regular exercising, here are some of our top tips for making the transition as smooth as possible:
#1 — Start off slow (commit to a few light workouts a week)
There is no need to jump back into exercise by trying to crush out an incredibly hard workout every single day. When we over-exert our bodies, we put ourselves at risk of developing serious injuries, losing motivation, and becoming overly tired. So instead of hitting the gym at full force, we recommend that you commit to lighter workouts a few times a week that integrate stretching pre and post-exercise.
#2 — Make a schedule and stick to it
Sometimes we need to rely on routines and habits to keep us on the right track. Just like anything else, building a sustainable exercise routine is one of the best ways to keep you returning back to the gym. We recommend that you find times that work within your current schedule and book them off on your phone calendar. Keeping up a consistent time for your exercise will help keep you on track, even on days when you feel less motivated.
#3 — Try out something new!
If you aren’t feeling like returning to your previous routine, this is the perfect opportunity to explore other fitness options! If your local gym is no longer offering your favorite class or if you are feeling burnt out with your previous routine, it is definitely time to switch things up. Virtual group classes, 1-on-1 personal training, and outdoor activities are all great options to explore if you are feeling a little in a rut with your current routine.
#4 — Remember to allow yourself to rest
As tempting as it may feel to push yourself to get back into shape, rest days are actually essential for healthy muscle development and improved performance. If you are noticing that you are feeling significantly more sore and fatigued after a workout, it is a good indication that your body is in need of rest. Staying hydrated, stretching, and taking days off from exercising are needed to prevent muscle fatigue, reduce the risk of injury, and allow for adequate muscle recovery.
#5 — Small improvements add up over time, so long term commitment is key
It can be discouraging to commit to a consistent workout schedule only to notice small changes to your strength and fitness. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your sustainable post-COVID fitness routine. And while these feelings are totally normal, trying to keep the bigger picture in mind is a helpful way to remain positive. Small increases in weight over time can have a huge impact on your overall strength and fitness — so keep at it!
#6 — Use the apps you love to keep you on track
Are you one of the people who turned to mobile apps and vital services during the pandemic? If so, then they can be a great tool to keep you track as you return to the gym. With a bunch of popular apps capable of suggesting workout ideas, tracking sore muscle groups, and monitoring your progress, they can be used to help support and focus your fitness efforts.
Setting A Road Map For Getting Back on Your Fitness Journey
Are you interested in learning more about your body as you begin your journey to better health? At InBody USA, we specialize in providing high-quality fitness and health support by offering personalized, detailed, and accurate body composition readings. Capable of creating a personalized road map to reach your specific fitness goals, the InBody experience is a great way to establish your current fitness baseline, provide specific areas to target, and monitor your progression to better health over time.
Find the nearest testing location to you today to start your journey to better overall health and wellness with InBody USA!
Putting It All Together
It is not a surprise that a year and a half of unprecedented times has led to major disruptions in our overall health and wellness. As our world slowly begins to reopen and adapt, many people are looking to return to their previous physical fitness routines. Responsible for a wide variety of health benefits such as improved mood regulation, improved sleep, weight management, and the prevention of health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, building a healthy and sustainable fitness routine is essential to maintain a high quality of life.
And while the pandemic has posed some challenges to staying active. There are many creative and fulfilling ways to keep yourself healthy and happy as the world continues to tackle the global pandemic. From newfound digital services to an increase in time spent being active outdoors, there are plenty of new and exciting ways to return to being regularly active — and we hope our tips can help you stick to your fitness goals!
Claire is a registered nurse based in Alberta, Canada. She is a certified operating room nurse and enjoys creating educational content for her patients.