Why September Is the Crucial Month to Re-Start Your Exercise Program
The old Nat King Cole song aptly described summer days as “lazy, hazy, crazy.” Certainly, we want to be outdoors in the sun, but we don’t necessarily want to be exercising. We’d often rather sip a piña colada, take in a ballgame, grill some steaks, or simply lounge at the pool rather than swim laps. Summer is also a time for travel, so our schedules can be hectic, and our routines definitely get interrupted. If we are faithful to the notion of daily exercise, we have to make concessions to extreme heat, so our workouts can be considerably shorter. Thus, when September rolls around, and summer breathes its last gasp on Labor Day weekend, it’s time to think about kicking our exercise program back into gear.
September or never?
If you’ve let your exercise program lapse during the hot spells of July and August, September is the perfect time to get back on the beam. The morning sun invites us to get in an early jog, but if you prefer, there’s still enough light after work to get in a bike ride. The air has cooled to a comfortable level: not too cold to discourage us at warmups and not too hot to slow us down when we hit peak exertion.
For many, September is the last best chance to get into an exercise groove. Soon the temperatures will drop, the days will shorten and the holidays will set in, disrupting any routine we haven’t set in stone. If you don’t regain your exercise form in September, before you know it, you’ll be making a New Year’s resolution to work up a regular sweat and shed some pounds. And we all know how well most resolutions work out. By early February, you’re back to bad habits, and putting off thoughts of exercise until spring.
So, if you’re like many folks, September is your last best chance to renew your commitment to fitness before you get terribly out of shape. And, if you can return to form, your commitment is more likely to carry through the cold, dark winter months, so you can enjoy good health all year long.
Tips for returning to exercise after a layoff
It’s important to understand that even if you were in good shape five or six weeks ago, you’ve got to ease yourself back into your exercise program. Therefore:
- Spend more time on warmups and stretching
- Alternate static stretching with dynamic stretching
- With weight training, reduce the load by about 20 to 50 percent from your previous level, and build back up over time. This may be a blow to your ego, but you’re better off having several, productive low-impact workouts as you rebuild your strength than straining yourself and being unable to work out.
- Pace yourself; you want to be able to work out steadily, not miss days because of soreness or fatigue
- Listen to your body rather than pushing to duplicate past performance.
A good rule of thumb is that it will take about twice the time of your inactivity to get back to your previous peak performance. So, cut yourself some slack and emphasize process over product. Congratulate yourself for returning to a healthy exercise routine, enjoy the activity, and let the results take care of themselves.
September is a great time to return to group exercise activities
No matter how long it’s been since you sat in an actual classroom, September still means “Back to School.” And while we mostly associate that with reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic, everyone has memories of reuniting with friends after a long summer away and joining in on team sports with classmates. So, for many of us, September calls us back to the softball diamond, the basketball court, the tennis courts, the running club and the cycling club.
If you aren’t part of a sporting community in your area, this is something you might consider. Being part of a group applies positive peer pressure that helps you maintain your routine. In classes at your local gym, you can also get pointers on exercise technique that help you advance more quickly with less risk of injury. If tennis is your game, working with a local pro can help you improve for greater enjoyment, while reducing your chance of developing “tennis elbow” or other maladies due to poor technique.
Many communities have adult sports leagues with different levels of competition. These leagues not only allow you to rediscover the unique camaraderie that comes with playing a team sport, but they provide opportunities for socializing and networking. This makes them ideal for young, single professionals hoping to advance on multiple fronts. Some businesses sponsor teams for their employees to build company morale, but if you need a break from the office and your coworkers, an outside league might be more appropriate.
The same rules we mentioned above for getting back into your individual exercise routine apply for a return to team sports. In fact, it’s often more critical to remind yourself you’re not the high school/college athlete you once were. Once you get on the field of play, your adrenaline, boosted by memories of past glory, can push you beyond your current limits. Sometimes it’s useful to take the literal measure of the situation — waistline, weight, body mass index — and compare those numbers to what they were in your heyday. Then accept the results with a little humility. Remember, you’re in this for fun and good health, not to tear a hamstring that’s going to take three months to heal.
Wellbeing coaches wishes you good health 12 months out of the year. If personal training, dietary counseling or any other coaching service can assist, we’re here for you. Contact us today.
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All information contained on this website are for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be taken as medical or other health advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical professional. IN THE CASE OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY OR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, IMMEDIATELY CALL 911.
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