Getting Back Your Lost Exercise Habit

Post date: 1/4/2022

The weather in Arizona is delightful. However, the thought of fulfilling the promise to yourself of getting back to exercising in the new year may have you feeling frightful.

As Sun Health’s Wellness Specialist Alex Stark, M.S., says, the key to making sure you stay true to your New Year’s resolution of getting back to exercising is to start small.

“I like to remind clients that the most important thing is to start small. Exercise is not like riding a bike. You might remember what to do, but your muscles need a little time,” he says. “If you used to exercise for an hour, start with 15 minutes. If you used to cover 3 miles, in 1 hour, now you may only be able to do 1 mile and that’s OK.”

As Alex points out, it is not uncommon for people to take time off from exercising during the holidays; others may have stopped workout routines due to fitness center closures. Another important part of getting back to physical activity is to reestablish the routine, and that does not happen overnight.

“It takes 12 weeks to establish a habit, so the sooner you start the habit and do it more regularly, the more success you will have in the long run,” Alex says. “And the smaller amounts and working up to frequency is key as well. Once you establish the behavior again, if you get off track something will feel amiss because you get an adrenaline boost when you exercise, and when you don’t you will feel groggy and miss the feeling. It’s all about getting back to the routine.”

Another important reminder when getting back on track — remember to drink plenty of water and warm up before stepping out into the cool weather to exercise. Also, forgetting to stretch out could land you in the physician’s office.

“It is easy to think because it is cooler outside, I am not as likely to sweat or get overheated, so I do not need as much water, which is not the case. Our bodies are like engines and always need water,” Alex says. “And be sure you warm up before going outside in the cool temperatures. If you do not stretch or ease into whatever you might be doing, you can easily get a cramp, which could lead to injury. Ease into what you are doing. Don’t just step outside and start sprinting.”

Alex reminds us to take getting back to exercising day by day and to be easy on yourself as you reestablish the habit.

He cautions that although habits may take 12 weeks to form, as soon as you start to work on them, they will grow into a habit.

The key is not to overthink it, keep it simple, and before you know it, regular exercise will be part of your 2022 routine!

As Alex says, reestablishing the habit is the most important part of getting back to a physically active lifestyle. Join Alex as he presents a class called “Getting Back on Track” on Jan. 31 available in person or via Zoom. Visit SunHealthWellness.org/classes.