Quarantine has left most of us stuck at home and in totally new routines. We are no longer walking around the office, commuting, or going to the gym. In fact, for the overwhelming majority, we are living more sedentary lives than ever. As economies and businesses slowly reopen, it can be tempting to jump back into pre-quarantine patterns of exercise to get our old lives—and bodies—back.

Start Slow

When returning to your old exercise routines take things slow, recommends Dr. Jan McBarron, a Medical Doctor specializing in bariatrics and nonsurgical weight loss medicine. Start your workouts at about fifty percent of the intensity of your average pre-quarantine workout, she says. This will help avoid injuries you may not even realize you are susceptible to after prolonged periods of sedentary activities.

As an active person who loves the outdoors, hiking, and tennis, Dr. McBarron understands the desire to get back the things we love. But as a doctor, she knows that after long periods of inactivity the body begins to lose muscle mass. Running, weightlifting, and other forms of training will be more of a shock to the system than many might realize.

Don’t Get Discouraged

Dr. McBarron is concerned and keenly aware that quarantine has put many people at risk for physical injury upon their return to exercise. “The last thing I want to see is people going out there with good intentions of getting back into shape and injuring themselves in the process,” she says. Injuries take time to heal and after quarantine, another bout of waiting could prove increasingly frustrating and disheartening for well-meaning individuals.

Taking things slow will reduce your chance of injury. As Dr. McBarron recommends, start your workouts at half the intensity you would have expected of yourself before quarantine. If you used to run five miles, start out with two and half. If you used to lift fifty pounds, start with twenty-five. Slowly increase the intensity of your workouts over a week or two. By the third or fourth week, you should be able to see real progress and even find yourself where you were prior to quarantine. For athletes training at elite levels, this timeline may be longer. But the caution will prove a worthy investment, says Dr. McBarron.

Try Simple Exercises

Whether you engage in individual or team activities, take time to get your body back into the habit of training. If you are just starting out, Dr. McBarron recommends simple exercises you can do at home to get your body warmed up such as squats, lunges, and simply  marching in place. Slowly build back up to your pre-quarantine standards before pushing yourself further to avoid injury.

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