By Sarah Buron

Whether you had a busy week that turned into a busy month and fell out of the habit, or maybe your gym closed down during the pandemic, it is not uncommon for workout routines to end up on the backburner. Exercise is a crucial part of overall health (both physical and mental), so here are some tips to get back to it:

Start small. It is important not to do too much too soon in order to avoid burnout. For example, begin with 5-10 minutes of low-intensity movement and build from there. After a week or two, bump up the intensity or duration. As you get stronger and more comfortable, you will feel more encouraged to continue healthy habits.

Schedule your workouts. When we schedule something in our daily calendar, we are less likely to skip it. It is all about finding what works best for you and your schedule. Treat your workouts like the important appointment that they are.

Prep the night before. Set your workout clothes or gym bag out before you go to bed. Put your alarm on the other side of the room right next to those items, so when it goes off in the morning, you have fewer excuses.

Set small goals and reward yourself. As you reach goals or stick with your routine, reward yourself with things such as a new sports bra or water bottle. Make sure the rewards align with helping you stay consistent in your health and fitness routine.

Do not rely on motivation. This might be one of the most important tips because so many people wait to feel motivated in order to work out. Motivation is fleeting, so focus instead on how good you will feel afterward. Focus more on the outcome rather than the effort it will take.

Slow progress IS progress. If you have a weight loss goal in mind, remember that slow and steady wins the race. Make sure not to have unrealistic expectations going in, and know that consistency is key.

Sneak it in. Go about your day with the intention of incorporating more activity into it. Avoid the elevator and take the stairs. Park further away from the store entrance. At work, get up and walk to a coworker’s desk rather than sending that e-mail. Take a walk around the block after a meal. This all adds up to more overall movement throughout your day.

Find what works for you. While every workout is not going to be enjoyable, it is important to find what works for you. If you absolutely dread stepping on a treadmill, do not make that part of your workout routine. Many gyms offer different classes, and there are countless online options.

Build up to using weights. Before incorporating weights, it may make sense to start with bodyweight exercises like squats, mountain climbers, lunges or planks. As you progress, you can then switch it up and try lunges and squats while holding weights.

Hydrate. The more active you are hydrated, the more you sweat. Drinking water throughout your day will help to keep your hydration at an optimal level and also help you recover faster.

Find support. Surround yourself with friends and family who will help bring you closer to your goals. Share those goals with each other to keep the motivation going. There are also online groups available if you need additional encouragement or want to find other like-minded people.

Rest is just as important as movement. Recovery is part of being active, as your body needs that time to replenish and repair. Incorporating rest into your routine is an essential part of any health and fitness journey.

Give yourself grace. Do not get frustrated if you realize you have lost strength or feel out of shape. Give yourself the same pep talk you would give a friend because berating yourself is not helpful. If you get out of your routine, it is important to get out of your own head and just start again.