How to Get Back to Working Out After a Long Break

If you're out of shape, getting back to exercising can be pretty intimidating. But, you can quickly get your workout groove back with these easy tips!

February 21, 2022 5 minutes read
Woman stretches after exercising

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Sometimes life gets in the way, and exercising simply falls into the background. Whether it's due to pregnancy, injury, pandemic, or crazy work schedule, weeks quickly turn into months, months into years, and without even noticing it, you quickly find yourself in a workout rut.

The question is – How do I motivate myself to get back to working out again after such a long break and restore my routine?

The following tips, along with a bit of patience and effort, will get you back on track safely and help you stick to it.

Tips on How To Start Exercising When You're Out of Shape

First of all, if you've been on the bench due to an injury or pregnancy, you need to speak with your doctor before hitting the gym. They will make sure you're healthy enough and ready for physical activity and give you some guidelines on safely getting back into it.

woman on a treadmill

If your time off wasn't medically related, here are some tips to help you get your groove and shape back:

#1: Start Slow and Easy

You can't just continue where you left off several months ago. Pushing yourself too hard in the beginning can lead to burnout, or even worse, you can injure yourself. So listen to your body and if lifting weights or full-on yoga sessions feel too straining, start with lighter exercises, such as brisk walking.

Find your ideal pace and brisk walk for 20 minutes several times a week. As soon as you start moving your body, you'll feel better, and you'll be able to see when your body is ready for a more intense workout.

#2: Gradually Increase Intensity

Once you feel your body is re-acclimated to movement, it's time to add other exercises to your brisk walking. For example, you can start weight lifting, running, or join a yoga class. However, whatever you do, it's still crucial to keep it slow initially and incorporate higher-intensity workouts that are no longer than 5 to 10 minutes. After a while, you'll be able to build the intensity and duration of your exercises.

#3: Pick Something You Enjoy

To stay motivated and look forward to your next training session, it's essential to find exercises that you genuinely like. Fitness experts often say that the best exercise is the one you enjoy the most and which you'll likely continue doing.

woman enjoying her running session

If you don't see yourself devoting 3 or 4 days a week to yoga, move onto something you'll look forward to more. That could be dancing, swimming, biking, or walking. You want to make this experience as enjoyable as possible if you want to stick to it.

#4: Don't Focus Only on Weight Loss

Exercising and weight loss shouldn't be associated with each other at all costs. Instead, it would help if you looked at losing some weight as only a desirable side effect of working out and not the sole goal.

Instead, focus on how good you feel during and after exercise and other health benefits, such as more energy, improved sleep, and better mental well-being. If you only think of weight loss and it doesn't happen as quickly as you would like, you could quickly lose motivation to continue with your workout routine.

#5: Find Friends to Workout With

If you're in it all by yourself, it's very easy to find an excuse and skip a training session from time to time. On the other hand, working out together with a colleague, friend, or a family member would help you stay accountable and motivated as you would encourage each other throughout the process.

friends working out together

If you don't find anybody to join you, then it would be a good idea to get a personal trainer or join a group class. It adds a social aspect to your training and makes everything all the more fun and enjoyable.

#6: Prepare Your Workout Bag the Night Before

Get all your gear ready the night before. Once you see your workout bag waiting for you, you'll feel more motivated to get on with it.

workout gear

If everything you need to do is pick up your gear and walk out the door, you're less likely to change your mind. Therefore, don't plan your week and workout days in advance, but plan for just one day and get everything ready the day before. In no time, it'll become a habit, and each time, you'll need less willpower to get through with it.

#7: Give Your Body Time to Recover

The recovery routine is also an essential part of your workout routine. During high-intensity workouts, your muscles break down their creatine phosphate reserves to create energy. Besides, while you're exercising, your muscles form tiny tears. That's why you need a post-workout rest to give your muscles a chance to heal, rebuild, and grow stronger.

One rule of thumb would be to have one to two days of rest between training sessions of the same muscle groups.

#8: Take a Holistic Approach

While you shouldn't force changing all the habits at once, once you pick up exercising and make it a habit, try changing other habits as well. These include sleeping well, drinking enough water, and eating properly.

If you continue eating junk food and staying up until 4 a.m., your motivation will dwindle as your body will suffer during training. Before long, you'll abandon your fitness journey once again. So get your house in order a bit and drink lots of water, have eight hours of sleep every night, and eat plenty of protein, fruits, and veggies.

man and woman with gym gear

Again as with everything else, take one step at a time and set yourself goals you can achieve. So to start with, you can stop drinking soda pop, for example. Next, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier every second night. Keep your goals small and achievable so you can get encouraged by your daily victories.

#9: Be Ready for Pitfalls

As with anything else in life, be it a relationship, work, or fitness, you will inevitably make mistakes, and you'll have your ups and downs. Acquiring new habits in life is no piece of cake, and you'll be tempted to give up on it sooner or later.

In these moments, it's essential not to be hard on yourself but rather be aware that it's part of the process. It would be best to do something different when that happens, like get yourself new training gear, switch up some exercises, or treat yourself to a massage or a new pair of shoes. These little tricks will help you boost your motivation and self-confidence.

four women doing yoga


Don't forget that you're doing it for yourself – not for anyone else or for the opinions of others. So every time you workout, take joy in knowing that you're doing something good for your health and well-being. The more you persevere with your new workout routine, the easier it will be to form a healthy habit. In no time, it will become an indispensable part of your daily life.


How do I start exercising after years of inactivity?

If you've been inactive for years due to a medical condition, injury, or pregnancy, you need to talk to your doctor first and establish what kind of exercises your body is able to handle. Nevertheless, you will have to start slow and avoid high-intensity training in the beginning.

What happens if you exercise after a long time?

If you started exercising again after a long break, you're probably going to experience extreme fatigue and muscle pain initially. In the worst-case scenario, you could also injure yourself as your joints and spine aren't used to physical activity. For this reason, take it easy and start with lighter exercises like brisk walking two or three times a week.

How can I get in shape after 40?

It would be best to listen to your body and do those exercises that feel good and are not too straining. Ease into your fitness routine with lighter exercises, such as swimming or pilates for beginners. Once you feel your body is ready for more challenging exercises, you can start with muscle strengthening, jogging, and others.

When can I start working out again after Covid?

Depending on the severity of your Covid symptoms, you should refrain from any straining physical activity two weeks up to a month after the infection. Then, start with light walking for 15 to 30 minutes every second day, and make sure to monitor your pulse.

How do I start working out at home?

First, you need to find an exercise program you enjoy and that you're likely to stick to. Next, get some basic equipment like a mat and two smaller weights. And, finally, set achievable goals to stay motivated.

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