Getting Back into Shape After Years of Inactivity – How to Start?

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If you have decided that you are ready to begin getting back into shape after years of inactivity, we can help! This informative guide was designed to give you the right information to start turning around your sedentary lifestyle safely.

Not only will we discuss the best ways to get back into shape, but we will also offer advice that will keep you motivated while working out. Unfortunately, many people decide to get back into shape but jump into physical fitness too eagerly and either injure themselves or become overwhelmed and discouraged because they need to pace themselves appropriately.

If you are ready to take those first important steps toward physical fitness, you have come to the right place!

How to Get Back into Shape After Years of Inactivity – Step-by-Step Guide

To help you get off the sofa and take those first vital steps toward regaining your physical fitness, we will go over the most important steps one at a time. If you proceed through the following steps, you will be prepared for success.

1. Consider Your Motives and Visualize Your Goals

Before you head to the gym or head out on your first jog, you first need to consider why you want to get back into shape. This step is not designed to discourage you or make you rethink your decision to get back into shape. Rather, it gives you a sense of focus and purpose.

This will help push you when you feel like giving up. Do you want to get back into shape to look more physically attractive? Do you want to feel better about yourself? Do you have concerns about your short-term and long-term health?

No matter what your motives are, take time to think about them seriously. Visualize your goals and think about how your life would improve if you achieved them. Remember, you can have multiple goals. You may want to get back into playing sports, drop some unwanted body weight, feel healthier, and ensure you can keep up with your young children.

One of the best ways to really cement your goals is to write them down. By committing your goals and motives to paper, you will feel more connected to them.

2. Write Out a List of Realistic, Progressively Challenging Goals

In the first step, we covered the importance of staying motivated, and one of the best ways to do so is to prevent yourself from becoming discouraged. This is where realistic and small goals that are progressively challenging help.

If this is your first time running, consider setting the goal of running ten times in the first month of your fitness journey. The following month you can then set the goal of running 12 times.

You can apply the same goal to attending the gym several times per week or month.

You can also set specific goals for your exercise routine, like running one continuous mile by the end of the month. Another goal could be ten uninterrupted push-ups by the end of the month. The types of mini-goals you set will depend on your overall goals and motives for getting back into shape. Whatever your goals are, setting and achieving things will help keep you going.

Remember, being realistic about these mini-goals is incredibly important. If the goals you set are too lofty, you will become discouraged. Instead of planning to have six-pack abs after a few weeks, focus on physical activity and eating well for a certain number of days in a span of time. Once you have achieved that, set a slightly more ambitious goal. Don’t worry; the results will come if you practice consistency and apply yourself!

3. Begin Easing Yourself into Strength Training and Cardio Exercises

Now that you have a clear picture of your motives and set realistic mini-goals, you can get started!

If you have been inactive for a sustained period, there is a good chance that your muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance are poor. Don’t worry; this is why you are getting back into shape. The results will come with consistency and application.

For the best results, you should try a mixture of strength training and cardio, as this will help improve your overall health and fitness. Countless studies have found that a good combination of resistance training and cardio will yield the best results.

Since you have been inactive for quite some time, you will want to be realistic in the first few weeks. Consider going on a brisk, 30-minute walk five out of seven days during your first week. For strength training, a few light dumbbell or resistance band workouts throughout the week will help you get your inactive muscles moving again.

The amount of exercise you start with and the types of exercises you perform will depend on your goals, age, current fitness, and knowledge of physical fitness. With that said, try to practice both strength training and cardio in equal measure on alternating days. You should also leave at least one rest day per week where you do neither exercise, as this will help with recovery.

Two overweight female friends smiling in kitchen as they eat a healthy meal

What Else Can You Do to Help Yourself Get Back into Shape?

While you must dedicate yourself to an appropriate exercise routine to get back into shape, other lifestyle changes can also help support your fitness journey.

Improve Your Diet and Avoid Overeating

For starters, improve your diet! This is particularly important if you aim to lose weight; however, a healthy and nutritious diet is important for any fitness goal. Avoid empty calories and snacking on unhealthy, sugary foods between meals to start forming healthy habits. Don’t forget to watch what sorts of things you are drinking, as many people consume unnecessary calories from sugary drinks. 

Drink Plenty of Water and Stay Hydrated at All Times

Hydration is not only important while you are working out; it is important all the time! Drinking water throughout the day will help your body recover between each workout. Staying hydrated is also one of the best ways to avoid feeling sick and tired, as it will ensure that your organs can function properly.

Being well-hydrated is also an excellent way to ensure that your body can absorb all vital nutrients from your new health-conscious diet. It improves digestive system function and even helps deliver nutrients to your muscles.

Add Exercise to Your Days in Creative Ways

An exercise program can be something other than a scheduled event with a specific start and finish time. You can help improve your overall health by adding movement to your day that you would have previously avoided.

Consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or try parking farther away than you normally would so you are forced to walk more. If you have a dog, increase the length of your daily walks. Your dog will love the added outdoor time, and you will also reap the rewards of burning more calories.

These unexpected forms of exercise can help you improve your physical health. Chores, playing with your children, going for a relaxing stroll, or even just walking a mall while shopping can all sneak movement into your day.

Get Plenty of High-Quality Sleep

While you may assume that going to bed early would not be helpful when trying to get back into shape, it is actually critical.High-quality sleep will allow your tired muscle fibers to recover and repair themselves, while proper sleep habits are also critical for stress management.

Avoid staring at your phone when you go to bed. Instead, grab a book and read with a dim light. Cutting back on screen time before bed will help you fall asleep faster, and there is even some evidence that it can improve overall sleep quality.

Two women laughing together as they walk briskly outdoors

Final Words on Getting Back into Shape After Years of Inactivity

One of the most critical takeaways from this guide should be the importance of consistency. Do not allow yourself to give up and feel discouraged just because it takes a while to get back into shape.

The results will come with dedication. Remember the motives and goals you wrote out at the very beginning; this will help you focus on the long-term benefits of getting back into shape.

You also need to remember that it is okay if you have setbacks. If you thought you might be able to run five miles after a few months of training, but you are still stuck on three miles, that is okay! Remember where you started and focus on how far you have come, then dedicate yourself to training and getting up to that five-mile mini-goal.

You should also remember that it is perfectly normal to reach out for help. Physical trainers, workout buddies, dieticians, and many others can all be incredibly valuable resources. 

Most importantly, get started! Stop procrastinating and get back into shape! Even if it is challenging, you will thank yourself in the future.