Begin Again

Seven Ways to Resurrect Your Workout Routine

Many of us put our exercise programs on the shelf this past year during periods of quarantine and closure. And the thought of returning to your pre-2020 regimen might be daunting, to say the least. As we contemplate a return to moving our bodies and ramping up fitness programs, here are a few tips and tricks to keep the frustration and self-judgment at bay.


Remember why you’re doing it

Exercise is about way more than numbers on a scale. The CDC lists a reduced risk of all chronic diseases, elevated mood, lowered stress levels and improved sleep as some of the most important reasons to move your body more. If your health goals have taken a hit this past year, use that knowledge as practical motivation for finding a new routine that has more to do with how you feel than look. Find what feels good, as one famous yogi on YouTube intones.


Make small, achievable goals

Author, podcaster and self-improvement guru Tim Ferriss has some very sage advice for setting goals: “Rig the game so you can win it.” He explains that human beings are inherently far more motivated after achieving a goal, so start with a milestone you know you can reach and go from there. That might look like as little as 10 minutes of activity a day in the beginning.


Walk or move in between workouts

Walking is one activity that had its moment in 2020 because it is something most people can do from their homes safely. Don’t let those dog walks wane; they count and will help keep the ball rolling. Just because you aren’t hitting a new PR or crushing weekly mileage goals, doesn’t mean you aren’t doing the body good by strolling around the block.


Play a game

Having fun is one of the best motivators. Grab a racquet and hit the tennis or pickleball courts. Outside and socially distant options for both abound, and challenging someone to a friendly game can add an extra dynamic to the activity if you’re finding it hard to return to pre-pandemic pursuits.


Expect failure; don’t fear it

Fear of failure can be especially potent when starting or re-starting a program. If you’ve taken time off, do not expect your body to be able to perform the way that it did, and definitely don’t add judgment to the mix. Not every workout will feel great, so don’t let one suboptimal sweat session make you feel like a failure. The most important thing is to shake it off, applaud the effort you did give and commit to the next one.


Make a bet with friends

A handful of emerging apps have taken accountability to new heights, which can make goal setting significantly more effective. It turns out peer pressure can have positive outcomes. Platforms such as HabitShare, Goalify and VERVO allow you to make collective goals with friends and even put money on them. Many include reward and punishment mechanisms that you can pick and choose based on how you are best motivated.


Try something new or learn a new skill

Similar to achieving small goals, learning a new skill has an inherent motivational reward system built in. You can’t help but feel good when you gain new knowledge. You can leverage this concept with your fitness goals by tackling something you’ve never tried before. Try running sprints for the first time, yoga, Pilates, martial arts or a number of other specific activities. Just remember, you won’t be an expert right away, so approach it with a beginner’s mindset and a healthy ability to laugh at yourself as you dive in.

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