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A couple in their thirties or forties laughing on a yoga mat.

7 Tips: How to Start Working Out Again

May 02, 2022

Starting to work out in your forties? Sixties? Eighties? Good for you! Establishing the right physical exercise regimen can work wonders for your physical, mental, and spiritual quality of life. So, how to start working out again then? How exactly can we avoid the all-too-common burnout and make this new habit stick? Here are a few tips for how to start exercising when you’re out of shape or just getting back into it.

A middle-aged couple going for a run on a trail.

7 Tips for How to Start Exercising When You’re Out of Shape

1. Establish a routine

Exercise is all about consistency and routine. If you’re wondering how to start working out again and you’re struggling to find your rhythm, getting very specific with your goals will help. Shoot to define your activities and objectives in as concrete of terms as possible (think activity, duration, number of reps, etc.).

Goal Setting Examples:

Weak: I commit to ride my bicycle more in 2022.
Better: I commit to ride my bicycle twice as much in 2022 as I did in 2021.
Best: I commit to take a 30-minute bike ride 4 times per week for the next two months.

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Three seniors going for a walk for exercise.

2. Keep It simple to start

The routine you start with does not have to be the routine you’re doing six months from now. Commit to something manageable. Maxing out what you think you can handle from day one may give you a burst of ambitious excitement, but you’ll likely feel more discouragement than anything else when that wears off. You will get where you’re going if you keep at it, but try to be patient with yourself. Consistency is the initial priority. Remember: slow and steady wins the race!

3. Commit to Two Months

Research reported on by Healthline shows that the average time for solidifying a new habit is 66 days; or about two months. It may be more and it may be less, but two months is a good benchmark for stepping back and assessing what’s working and how you’re feeling.

4. One step at a time

Instead of focusing on the 20 obstacles between you and the results you want, why not focus that same energy on the next step? You’re certainly capable of it. After all, we all essentially use the same zoomed-in, step-by-step approach all the time throughout our daily activities. If we didn’t, we’d probably never make it around the grocery store and back home with anything on our lists.

So, why then do we get so caught up on the big picture when it comes to our goals?

Well, the finish line is usually a more exciting thought than the hill in front of us. Or maybe it’s another reason entirely. Regardless, cracking the why may do less for us than just acknowledging that this pattern can happen. When we decide to focus on what’s in front of us moment to moment, things do become much easier. Which leads us to one of the most critical tips on this list…

5. Pursue enjoyment in the moment

The more we can learn to fine-tune our perception, the more we’ll start appreciating the little moments of joy amidst the challenges of pushing our bodies: that first flood of endorphins; the flavor of a favorite sports drink after a particularly strenuous lift; the camaraderie of suffering alongside a workout buddy… The joy is in the journey, not just the finish line!

On a similar plane of thought, there’s something kind of silly that human beings tend to do when we set out to achieve something daunting. We assume that we must necessarily torture ourselves to achieve it. For instance, a lot of people struggle with cardio in the form of running. But perhaps the very first image that comes to mind when they consider getting back into shape is of being forced into a brutal, breathless 5k under an ungodly hot sun.

Instead of automatically forcing yourself to do the thing you hate most, consider potential alternatives. In the case of running, the similar benefits of swimming or another alternative form of cardio like riding a bicycle or taking long walks could be a perfectly reasonable substitute, at least to start. There are often ways to mix and match exercises based on what you hope to achieve. In time, running may become easier too, but when looking at how to start working out again, choosing an adjacent exercise may be a really helpful approach. The primary goal here is to avoid building a regimen that you’re going to wake up absolutely dreading every day. That sort of thing is rarely sustainable.

6. Cut yourself some slack

Self-criticism can cripple your quest to be fit before it ever gets going. This is a common obstacle for high achievers and perfectionists. See if this scenario sounds familiar:

  1. You learn about a new thing.
  2. You get VERY excited about that thing.
  3. You decide to go all in and pursue it!
  4. You educate yourself further, commit to a plan, and begin.
  5. You stick to the plan religiously and feel great about your strides.
  6. A few weeks in, you miss a day or otherwise perceive a failure of some sort on your part.
  7. This frustrates you and and get down on yourself.
  8. That initial “failure” leads to a lack of enthusiasm.
  9. Before you know it, you’ve missed another day… and another.
  10. You gradually fall off of the routine completely.

Can you see where things went wrong? Crucially, it was not on step 6. Having an off day doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you’re human! So, when humanity comes into play or when life gets in the way and you don’t quite hit your goals for the day… the real trick is to start back at it tomorrow without judging yourself so harshly.

Simple? Yes. Easy? Not necessarily.

Just remember: every single person who has ever achieved anything (including the discovery of how to start working out again consistently) has also failed to live up to their goals (probably countless times) along the way. What separates those who get where they want to be from those who do not is often the willingness to accept their own humanity and hop back on the horse.

7. Reward Yourself

The more you keep hopping back up, the more you’re going to experience the other side of things, i.e., successes! Setting up a healthy reward system is an awesome way to reinforce the positive strides you make in your health journey. Have fun with it, and get creative. Maybe you take yourself to a movie every Saturday, go out for ice cream with a friend, or book a staycation somewhere at the end of the month. It’s up to you, boss! Because at the end of the day, you’ve earned it.

A man out for a run on a hot day.

Got More Questions on How to Start Working Out Again?

Contact Dr. Paula or stop by our location in Dublin any time you’d like. Rejuvenate You provides a wide variety of wellness services designed to optimize muscle recovery, pain relief, and more to make the question of how to start working out again that much easier.

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