5 Tips To Returning To Exercise!

 In Exercise Physiology, General, Physiotherapy

Hopefully everyone’s new years resolution is going well! For many people it involves getting returning to exercise and losing that weight that has been bugging them since last Christmas! With new found motivation we often get back to pounding the pavement like we used to a few years ago or get back into gym weights and exercise classes lifting the same weights we used to. If your resolution of getting back to exercise has already fallen by the wayside, fear not, as there is still hope, with a few quick tips we can get you back on the road to your fitness goals!

What we know about our body, specifically the nervous system and muscles and tendons, is that in a lot of cases they don’t respond well to large fluctuations in activity. An injury is often what puts the brakes on a grand plan of getting back into exercise, we get frustrated and return to the old routine of doing little to no exercise.

However, with a few simple tips we can get you back to less pain and more life! So here we go:


  1. The return to exercise, what ever it may be, needs to be gradual.
  2. Vary the types of exercises that you do and enjoy it!
  3. Add in some simple strengthening exercises.
  4. Ensure you have some rest days.
  5. Add in some stretching/rolling/flexibility work.

A gradual return

As previously mentioned, our body does not tolerate large fluctuations in activity very well. It prefers a slow increase in loading, to allow the tissues and the nervous system to adapt, and tolerate new loads. Often the pitfall is believing you can get straight back to running that five kilometre track like you used to two years ago. The best approach is to start with a reduced length, so maybe 20 minutes of walking, gradually building to on, off walking/running and eventually building up the running until you are able to run continuously for 20 minutes. There are some great programs out there like Couch to 5k, which is a running plan that builds you up slowly and safely.

Variation and enjoyment!

Variation of the different types of exercise is also a great way to keep you motivated, focused and reduces injury risk. Our body likes variation, no matter the situation, which is why we all keep wriggling around in a seat after four hours of sitting! Our body likes change, and adding different movement patterns reduces the overall load on certain areas of the body and reduces injury risk. Adding in some swimming to a running program or a yoga/pilates class to a cycling program can give overall better results and minimise the risk of overloading a certain muscle group or area of the body.

One thing I am always telling my patients is if you do not enjoy doing a certain form of exercise then you are far less likely to get your self out of bed or off the couch and do it! It’s human nature! Why force yourself to do something you don’t want to do, when you can find an activity you enjoy that will likely give you similar benefits.  If you struggle to find something you enjoy, find an activity you can tolerate and do something you enjoy during it, like going for a walk and listening to your favourite music or do that form of exercise with someone you enjoy being with, like your partner!


Adding in some general strengthening exercises to your regular routine helps keep your muscles and bones strong! Recent studies reveal strengthening above all other forms of treatment is the best way to help rehabilitate injuries and prevent them from occurring. You should have the appropriate levels of strength and conditioning relevant to the demands of the task you wish to perform!

Some simple body weight exercises are a great place to start, for example some squats, lunges, step ups, glute bridges, push ups. All body weight exercises you can do anytime and anywhere!

Rest is just important

Initially when returning to most forms of exercise, it is normal to have some mild post exercise muscle soreness. To avoid an increase injury risk, it is important to allow those sore muscles a chance to recover and adapt to the new change in activity. Rest doesn’t always mean just sitting on the couch for an afternoon, it is a great time to schedule in some stretching or flexibility sessions. Ideally schedule 2-3 rest days per week, initially. As you body adjusts you can reduce the amount of rest you require.

Stay flexible!

As we are strengthening muscles and adding increased load to our system, it is common for those sore muscles to tighten up. It is imperative to maintain stretching and flexibility in this time to again reduce the risk of injury. A slow build up of muscle tension is commonly the cause of a lot of injuries I see in the clinic and is easily avoided with the addition of some whole body stretching, or yoga classes.

Well there we have it, no fancy gimmicks or mind blowing epiphanies, just a few simple steps that can really help make your new years resolutions stick! The overall take home

message is one of patience, Rome wasn’t built in a day, a change in activity or habit is an ongoing process and requires focus and persistence.

Please remember this advice is all very general, if you are unsure about returning to exercise and would like some personalised advice about safely returning to exercise, call us on 4051 3252 or book online at www.cairnstotalphysio.com.au

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