Take slow steps to build exercise routine

Candy Neal/The Herald
Tayler Seger, Jasper (left) participates in a fitness class led by instructor Jordan Poteet, Jasper on Wednesday evening at FitFuel Nutrition+Fitness+Cryotherapy in Jasper.


With the spring weather settling in, people are looking at going outside, enjoying the seasonal change and becoming more active.

But after a year of being pretty much inactive, a person’s expectation of what he can do may not match what he actually can do.

“People are getting excited about possibility of getting out safely right now,” said Erin Rauscher, owner of Yes Power Yoga in Huntingburg. “Stationary is not the best thing for us. In order for things to operate and function properly, we need some form of movement. That’s how our lymphatic system works. That’s how we boost our immunity, through movement.”

Those who are looking to become fit and active again should do it slowly, said Ashley Downes, owner of FitFuel Nutrition+Fitness+Cryotherapy.

“Don’t bite off more than you can chew in the beginning,” she said. “Start slowly and just ease your way back into things.”

For someone who has not been active during the last pandemic year, the goal for becoming active should not be a number or mile mark to reach.

“Focus on progress, not perfection,” Downes said, “just trying to make each week a little bit better than the week before, doing more than you did the week before. We don’t want to jump into things too quickly, because then that’s when we get injured, or burned out and discouraged.”

Be patient with yourself, Rauscher said. “One of the best things to do is first, give yourself grace,” she said. Because maybe you haven’t done anything in a while. So look at this as a time of renewal and time to start again.”

Becoming active goes beyond physical fitness, Rauscher explained.

“I think it is more about our mental health,” she said. “You’re going to feel better if you move. You’re going to feel better when you start exercising. That is connected with our mind and our mental health.”

So tuning in to your mental and emotional health is also important, as is not discouraging yourself by what you can or cannot do now.

“Don’t compare yourself to where you once were, or where you think you should be,” Rauscher said. “I tell people in class that we ‘should’ all over ourselves. Stop ‘should’ing on yourself.”

Whatever activity people choose to do, they should make sure it is something they will want to do, not something that is burdensome.

“Do something that you love, something that’s going to be sustainable,” Downes said. “So if you absolutely hate running, don’t set a goal of running a half marathon. Choose something that you like to do. If you like group fitness, sign up for a class. If you like to work by yourself and just need some help, maybe hiring a personal trainer is the best way to start. If you like to be outside, get on your bike or go on a run or walk. Do something that you enjoy. That way you’ll be able to keep that habit up for the long term.”

If you want to tap into the creative side of your brain, Rauscher suggests trying something you’ve never done before. Whatever the activity, make sure it is enjoyable.

“Have fun with your workouts,” Rauscher said. “Because if you’re already like, ‘Oh my gosh; this is gonna be horrible,’ you won’t stick with it. It’s the balance between being challenging and being fun.”

And make sure it is a realistic goal. “Give yourself a goal that’s attainable,” Rauscher said. “Maybe it’s drinking more water. Maybe it’s over your lunch break you’re going to take a 10-minute walk,” she said. “If we jump right into something that is too intense, that could throw our nervous system off balance.

“It’s a holistic approach to our health right now.”

How much a person moves at one time will depend on the person.

“For someone that hasn’t really done anything or has a lot of health problems, maybe a walk a couple nights a week is going to be progress for them,” Downes said.

“For someone who has been doing workouts at home, they may want to kick it up a notch; they may be ready to go back to the gym or to a class. What you don’t want to do is set this giant goal and feel like you have to hit that right away.”

Slow progress is best. “Where a lot of people make their No. 1 mistake is they jump all in right away,” Rauscher said. “Let’s say they decide they’re going to start a really heavy regimented program from the get-go. That’s a recipe that leads to quitting. That’s one of the reasons why we don’t stick with the program.”

“Aim for progress, not perfection,” Downes reiterated. “Don’t get discouraged.”

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