By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM
If your Christmas break has extended well into the New Year, you may find yourself wondering how to get back on track to enjoy the summer. Getting back into your fitness routine after a long break can be challenging, so here are a few tips to help you succeed.
Honest Assessment: Assess your current fitness and start from there. Many would-be athletes jump into their new program with great intentions, but find themselves struggling with fatigue or injury by the end of the second week. A successful program starts with what your fitness is, not what you think it should be. If you're a runner who's taken some time off, start with a walk/run program and increase the time spent running each week. If you've been sitting on the couch rather than your recumbent bike this winter, starting with a short routine that will get you moving is more effective than jumping into a challenging hill workout.
Establish a Plan: At first a successful plan may be more about showing up for the workouts than the miles covered. If you're just getting started on cardio exercise after a long break, commit to a plan that gets you moving every day for a set period of time (20-30 minutes is a good start) . As you succeed at sticking to these workouts, increase the duration of your workouts each week by 10% until you find yourself meeting your goal. Wondering what that goal should be? If you're looking to lose weight from working out, you want to work up to at least an hour per day. For weight management and overall fitness, 30 minutes most days of the week is sufficient. Your Horizon fitness equipment makes it easy to keep track of the duration of your workouts and to stick to your training plan through features such as the Advanced Goal Center available on some models of equipment.
Create Accountability: Find a way of building accountability in to your workout plan to stay on track. Local running and walking groups can add a social aspect to your workouts, motivating you to stick to your program. You can also use a calendar to break down your training program and planned increases, track your workouts in your schedule, and using online communities to report and track your workouts. Horizon's fitness equipment offers motivating features such as Nike + iPod, which lets you save your workouts directly to your iPod and track your progress over time through the NikePlus.com community and resources. For more on this feature, check out this link.
Reassess Periodically: As you stick with your program your body will adapt and grow stronger quickly. Continue to slowly increase your workouts every week or two and consider adding a new challenge to your workouts after the first four to six weeks of sticking with your new program. You'll find challenging options in the programs offered through your Horizon fitness equipment. You may want to consider adding in an interval or hill workout each week to boost your fitness further and enjoy the energy-boosting effects of these workouts on your metabolism.
Weigh In: We'd love to hear how your spring training is going. How have you used your Horizon Fitness Equipment to see progress in getting your training on track this spring?