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Starting or keeping up an exercise regimen can be tough if you’re feeling overwhelmed by physical limitations, the effects of the pandemic or just “gym-timidation.” But the benefits of creating an exercise plan and moving more far outweigh the apprehension of working out. Exercising helps you build muscle mass, strengthen your heart, keep blood sugar low, improve your mood and can help you sleep better, among other things.
“Starting, or restarting following a long absence, can feel intimidating, but there are steps you can take to ensure you start moving safely to improve your health,” said Emily Heckman, PREP Coordinator, Inspira Fitness Connection.
Start a Program that’s Right for You
Before starting an exercise regimen, it’s important to talk to your doctor to ensure you stay safe and don’t overtax yourself. At Inspira, your primary care provider can refer you to the Physician Referred Exercise Program (PREP), a 90-day workout regimen at Fitness Connection that consists of group fitness with individuals who share your health status.
“In our 90-day PREP, we offer tracks in lifestyle management, diabetes and pre-diabetes management, heart health, pre and postnatal management, youth, cancer survivorship and arthritis management,” said Heckman. “Whether you try just one track or a combination of tracks, each plays a role in achieving a higher quality of life.”
In the program, each participant receives concentrated attention to ensure they know how to use equipment, know how to safely engage in their workouts, feel comfortable and feel supported.
Track Your Progress
What do you want to get out of your new workout regimen? That answer depends on your current health status; however, it’s important to set goals and track your progress to stay motivated. Goals could include walking a certain distance on a treadmill, improving body-weight exercises such as pushups and increasing the weight you can lift with your upper or lower body.
“Working closely with a trainer or fitness professional, determine where you are right now in terms of fitness, and where you’d like to be in a set amount of time like one or two months,” said Heckman. “Then, write down your goal and track your workouts as you do them.”
Upgrade Your Diet
To feel your best during exercise, it’s important to fuel your body. That means drinking plenty of water before, during and after a workout, and choosing the right foods.
“Prior to your workout, drink water and eat a meal that includes carbohydrates like whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread or fruit,” said Heckman. “Following a workout, eat a meal with carbohydrates and lean protein to help you build muscle.”
As you level up your workouts, what you eat becomes even more important. If your diet needs an overhaul, consider working with a nutritionist. “A nutritionist can help you learn about the food you put into your body and better plan your meals to fuel your life,” said Heckman.
When you embark on a fitness plan, it’s important to understand that not every workout will make you feel like you’re making progress. Some days, you might wake up and feel tired. It’s important to listen to your body and take a day off if you’re not feeling up to it. But make sure you get back to it the next day.
“Taking a look at the goal you set and your progress toward it can help you find the motivation to get back to exercising after a day off,” said Heckman.