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Getting Your Fitness Back On Track After A Break

After time away from exercise, how to rediscover the joy of feeling fit

Motivating yourself to get started with exercise can often be the hardest part. Janet used to run triathalons, including the legendary Iron Man, a gruelling two and a half mile swim, followed by a 112 mile cycle and a 26 mile marathon. So she’s certainly no exercise novice and knows the feel-good feeling of meeting a fitness challenge and the mood enhancement of regular fitness.

But newly retired from her job as a police officer, Janet, 50, from York, is missing the routine and motivation to be active. “From a very regimented and organised daily routine, I’ve gone to very little happening - unless I make it happen,” admits Janet, as she sits looking through past images of herself competing.

“I would absolutely adore to get back into it,” she says longingly in our #backontrack video. “If I’m exercising I feel great, my mood’s lifted and I have a lot more energy. If I’m not, everything’s on a more downward spiral.”

Janet starts gradually with cycle rides through the beautiful English countryside, then gradually increases her exercise with four mile runs with her dogs and lake swimming every week. “I feel really good with loads more energy than I had before,” she says jubilantly.

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Paul Smith, Senior Scientist at Human Performance Lab, offers his top tips for getting back into health and fitness.

1. Pick an event to work towards that meets your goals but is realistic.

2. Work back from the main event breaking the training down into six week cycles

“Start at low volume and low intensity (so you don’t injure yourself), then make each week incrementally harder so by week 4 and 5 you’re hitting high intensity. Make week 6 a recovery week, then start again at a higher level,’ he advises.

3. Track and monitor your training to follow your progress. There are some really good motivational apps that can track how far you’ve run or how far you’ve swum or cycled.

4. Compete for a charity to give you added commitment.

5. Keep things simple. Find out what works for you, find out what you enjoy and stick to it.

After six weeks of training, Janet has rediscovered her mojo. As she says, “I’m getting fit, feeling good and life can only get better.”

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