A Personal Trainer's Best Recommendations For Getting Back Into A Workout Routine

With most things in life, we're bound to experience a good bit of ebb and flow. There are some months where it feels like everything's coming up roses. Your boss thinks you're a rockstar, your relationship feels like heaven, and when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, you might pause for a second and think, "Man, I look like a million bucks." And then suddenly, it's like you're struggling to keep your head above water at work, your partner is making you want to pull your hair out, and you can't remember the last time you ate a vegetable.

Luckily, the good stuff always seems to come back around eventually. And when it's our workout routines that have fallen by the wayside, the power to get back to feeling great is entirely in our hands. In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Toshoya McEwan — a Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Certified Personal Trainer (CSEP – CPT) — gives us her expert tips on how to be proactive in getting yourself back into a solid exercise routine.

Why do we fall out of a workout routine so easily?

We've all been there before... We start cooking healthier meals at home, get back to the gym, and tuck ourselves into bed at a reasonable hour. And then as quickly as we started, we stop. So what's the deal?

According to McEwan, "The most common reasons why people fall out of a workout routine are due to a perceived lack of time, and not seeing instant results. Research shows that around 50% of people fall back into physical inactivity or significantly reduce their physical activity levels within the first months of starting."

She explains that this is, in part, caused by an underestimation of what it takes to truly be healthful. "Unfortunately, people often make the assumption that they can just set aside a few hours each week to exercise. That is generally a great start, but without consideration for eating habits, sleeping habits and, of course, water intake, people let life and other things get in the way, and those hours get cut down to minutes."

When we rely solely on moderate exercise without changing our other unhealthy habits, results can be extremely hard won. McEwan points out, "When people are not seeing the results they want, they start to lose motivation, become discouraged, and lose interest. But it's important to remember that significant fitness goals take time and effort. I reassure my clients that this is possible as long as they're willing to do the required work."

Where should we start when we want to get back into a healthy routine?

Falling off the fitness wagon can be discouraging and feed into those self-limiting beliefs, so it's no secret that starting is often the hardest part. But McEwan offers some sage advice. "The best way to get started again is by doing something you like! If you love to dance, start with 5–10 minutes a day. Similarly, if being outdoors makes you happy, go for walks or bike rides around your neighborhood."

While 10 minutes a day may not seem like much, one 2014 study published in PLOS One found that overweight men who exercised for 10 minutes three times a week experienced lowered blood pressure and improved aerobic capacity, and another 2018 study published in Neuropsychologia notes that 10 minutes of vigorous exercise can immediately improve cognitive function.

"Getting back into a routine may be daunting," McEwan says, "But remember that even baby steps can lead to big changes. A great way to keep active as an adult is to find creative ways to integrate the physical activities you enjoyed as a child into your current routine. It doesn't have to be much, just focus on taking that first step."

How to stick with it

Once you've gotten back into a healthy routine, the key is maintaining it. McEwan points out that a great way to do that is by seeking out help from a professional. "A certified fitness professional can help you develop an exercise plan that's tailored to your unique needs and goals," says McEwan. "They can also provide you with support and accountability, which are essential for success. If you're not sure where to start, visit your local community center or gym. In addition, there are also many free online resources available that can give you some ideas and help you get started on a new exercise routine."

If personal training isn't quite your jam, ask a friend or two if they want to hop on your healthy train with you. "Studies show that people who exercise with a partner or group are more likely to stick with their routine," McEwan says. "So find an exercise buddy, perhaps a colleague from work, to help keep you motivated and accountable." If you prefer to fly solo though, don't worry. "The point is to get moving," she asserts.

Offering one last piece of advice, McEwan says, "Finally, remember [that] lots of things in life will interrupt the best-made plans. Holiday feasts, a work deliverable, a change of seasons, illness, vacations ... all are expected and okay."

To hear more from Toshoya McEwan, visit her website. For more of Toshoya's tips on how to make achievable fitness goals, click here.