Ester Marsh column: Look to the future and be positive

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 19, 2020

Where to begin when you have been inactive the last 4 months?

I have had numerous people reach out to me and ask where and how to start a regular exercise routine again. The COVID19 absolutely thrown a curve ball in many people’s exercise routines. For a great part of our society an exercise routine does not come naturally. I quite often heard they highly dislike (hate) exercise even from people who would come every day to the YMCA! Impressed by their dedication I asked how they stay motivated to exercise if they hate it so much? Two main answers, I love the way it makes me feel and I can keep my weight under control. Last week I wrote about the abundance of weight many people gained during the stay at home order. I also have talked to people who beat themselves up because they stopped exercising and ate too much.

First, that’s in the past! You can keep reminiscing about “shoulda, woulda, coulda,” but all you do is make yourself more miserable. Start now and look forward, use your past to guide you positively in the future.

If you truly haven’t done much or anything, start slow. Three times a week 30 minutes of light exercise. You can even break it up in two sessions of 15 minutes. Light exercises would include walking, leisure biking, leisure swimming, or water walking. Each week you can increase your time and when you get to an hour you can start increasing intensity, going back to 30 minutes. Again, even the hour can be broken into four 15 minutes sessions.

As many of you can tell, the body loses its fitness level quickly when sedentary. But it takes a body at least 6-8 weeks to adapt to an exercise routine so give yourself at least two months to get back into some sort of exercise routine. Fortunately there is muscle memory so if you were exercising regularly your body will get back in shape faster.

Don’t go too hard or too much after being sedentary! That will bring other challenges such as tendonitis and bursitis and many more overuse injuries. Adding 10% to your workout each week works for most people, example you walk 30 minutes one week add 3 minutes the following week.

Same with weight training, just because you can lift it doesn’t mean you should use it. Start light, see how you feel the next few days and increase slowly. The 10% rule works here too.

Gentle Yoga and/or stretches is another way to start safely after being inactive. This Monday Susan Musselman is starting out back under our shelter at the JF Hurley YMCA Stretch and Balance which will be Mondays and Wednesdays from 7.15AM-7.50AM.

But most importantly, start exercising again. Many options and opportunities available at our YMCA’s, and other wonderful places in our amazing community!


Ester Hoeben Marsh Health & Fitness Director JF Hurley YMCA