How to Exercise Again after a Long Break

Did you stop working our recently due to health problems or a vacation? Learn how you can exercise again after a long break from your normal routine.
How to Exercise Again after a Long Break
José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli

Reviewed and approved by the doctor José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli.

Last update: 09 October, 2022

Maybe you’ve had an injury, given birth, changed jobs, or had to move. Regardless of the reason, it’s been weeks or months since you’ve moved your body more than the bare minimum. Every time you try to exercise again, it’s harder and harder.

Why? Maybe you feel like you’re weaker than you were before, you get tired more easily, or you can hardly bend or stretch your legs.

All of the above may be true, but at some point you have to bite the bullet and get back into your exercise routine. If you find yourself in a rut like what we’ve described, please keep reading today’s article! Learn how to start exercising again after a long break.

The first step is the most difficult

They say that the most important thing is to get through one week. The first month is the hardest when it comes to going to the gym, playing sports, or fitness training.

Whenever you have an accident, take on more work than before, have children, get married, start school, or winter comes, it becomes harder to stay in a good routine. You might take a break, hoping that someday the planets will align again and you’ll “know” when it’s time to return.

As we already said, the hardest part is deciding to start exercising again. That’s because when you spend some time away from the routine it’s going to seem like you were never in good shape to begin with, even though you may have been exercising for years.

But once you get back into the regular habit of exercise, it will again become almost an automatic task. The first week of “adapting” back to your routine is the most important one. And if you can get through one month of this, it will be more difficult for you to break it again.

Woman running
To help you make those first steps, remember that exercising is synonymous with having good health. It not only helps you lose weight, but improves your heart rate and breathing; it purifies the bloodstream, eliminates toxins, relieves stress and reduces anxiety.

Exercising also elevates your mood, makes you more flexible and strong and helps you sleep better.

Read also:

5 Yoga Poses to Practice If You’re Not Very Flexible

Tips to help you start exercising again

Check out the following tips that will help you get back into your exercise routine after a long time of “doing nothing.”

Start exercising for the right reasons

Everyone has a particular motive for exercising. You’re the only one who knows what yours is, and you need to set that as your clear objective before you can get started again.

Start small

Don’t try to jump back into the exact same routine you had before. If you were running a mile and a half a day, start by just running a few blocks. Be patient and don’t overexert yourself.

By starting small, you’ll be able to increase your difficulty, length of time, or the amount of weight you can lift. And that will encourage you to continue to improve.

If you were at a very advanced level, for example, it won’t hurt you to start out as a beginner again, at least for a few days. In a month you’ll be back to the intermediate stage and you’ll be on target to reach the state you were in before.

Read also:

The Best Yoga Poses for Beginners

Be realistic

It’s important to accept the fact that you’re not going to be fit and in great physical condition after months of avoiding exercise. While you will immediately enjoy the benefits of getting back into your routine, remember that it isn’t magic. No miracles are going to happen.

If you’ve gained weight or lost your stamina, understand that it’s simply a result of the long break. Don’t let it upset you and tempt you to quit.

Happy woman running

Make room for exercise in your schedule

Stop making the excuse that you don’t have time for exercise. If you organize your daily life well, you can work out two to three times a week for an hour each time. Think about the last routine you had. What days and times did you find to exercise? Would it be possible to do something similar now?

Mix it up

This will help you a lot in terms of motivation. Doing exercises that are fun and also make you feel good is double the benefits! It helps you avoid getting bored and stopping your new activity.

Try different exercises every day or each week. For example, you could try walking on Mondays, lifting weights on Tuesdays, riding a bicycle on Wednesdays, and jogging on Thursdays or Fridays. This is a more complete routine that you’ll enjoy more.

Give your body plenty of rest

Take a break for a day after a heavy work. But only take one day (unless you worked out on Friday and want to return to the routine on Monday).

And if you’re sick, don’t push yourself too hard to go to the gym. That’s not going to help you, or those who are around you. You can allow yourself to miss a workout, as long as it’s the exception rather than the rule.

Woman taking a walk

Workout with a partner

Exercising alone is very different than with a partner. It could be a friend, a spouse, a sibling, or a work colleague. It’s a good idea to help motivate you and of course, have a good time. But remember that you’re there to exercise, not chat or go out to eat. You can always do that later!

Set realistic goals

Don’t try to do everything on the first day you return to your routine because it will be virtually impossible. The goals you set for yourself have to be ones that you can actually achieve. This way you’ll feel better about yourself and not get discouraged. Exercise should be something you enjoy, not torture.

Reward yourself

Every time you fulfill a goal, give yourself some kind of reward. Something small! (Especially if we’re talking about food). You could also go to the movies or buy a new outfit. This positive feedback will make you want to exercise more and continue to achieve your goals.

Right now you need all the motivation you can get, so this little reward system is a great idea.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Mammen, G. and Faulkner, G. (2013). Physical activity and the prevention of depression: a systematic review of prospective studies. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 45(5), 649-57.
  • McArthur, D., Dumas, A., Woodend, K., Beach, S., & Stacey, D. (2014). Factors influencing adherence to regular exercise in middle-aged women: a qualitative study to inform clinical practice. BMC Women’s Health, 14(49).
  • Richards, J., Jiang, X., Kelly, P., Chau, J., Bauman, A., & Ding, D. (2015). Don’t worry, be happy: cross-sectional associations between physical activity and happiness in 15 European countries. BMC Public Health, 15(53).
  • Rodgers, W. M., Hall, C. R., Duncan, L. R., Pearson, E., & Milne, M. I. (2010). Becoming a regular exerciser: Examining change in behavioural regulations among exercise initiates. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 11(5), 378–386.
  • Uchida, S., Shioda, K., Morita, Y., Kubota, C., Ganeko, M., & Takeda, N. (2012). Exercise Effects on Sleep Physiology. Frontiers in Neurology, 3, 48.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.