Many people ditched their exercise habits during COVID-19, while some of us fell off the proverbial treadmill even before the pandemic hit. No matter how long it’s been since you hit the weights, yoga mat, trail or gym, it’s never too late to start moving. Here are 3 tips to help you get back into an exercise routine safely.

“When people start back after a prolonged period of time where they haven’t been as active as maybe they once were, I would encourage them to slowly get back into their routine, start to increase their activity and let their body be their guide,” says Donald Hohman, MD, a Medical City Healthcare orthopedic surgeon.

How to restart your workout program safely.

While you may be tempted to jump back into your exercise routine at full speed, you might find that you’re unable to do the things you could before—at least at the beginning. To avoid injuring your bones, muscles, cartilage, ligaments and joints—your musculoskeletal system—follow these tips from Dr. Hohman.

  • Respect the pre- and post-workout basics. Don’t forget to incorporate a warm up, stretching and a cool down into your routine. Be sure to stay hydrated before, during and after your workout. Dehydration can reduce your exercise performance and cause fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, headaches, mood changes and more.

  • Listen to your body and don’t push too hard. If something hurts or doesn’t feel right, back off, slow down or stop completely. Congratulate yourself for the effort (something is better than nothing!) and plan to go a little bit further/longer next time. 

  • Know when to seek medical attention. “If you’re having continuous discomfort or if you’re noticing symptoms such as locking, catching, clicking or popping, something mechanical may be going on in your joints,” Dr. Hohman says. “That may be something you need to have investigated. If there are activities that you can no longer do because you’re in so much pain and you’ve tried listening to your body and toning down the activities, that may also be something that you need to have looked at.”
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When in doubt, get it checked out.

Checking for a problem with the musculoskeletal system is typically straightforward and not incredibly invasive.

“You can learn a lot of information from a simple X-ray,” Dr. Hohman says. “Touching base with somebody to check out your hip or knee is not a big commitment.”

If you’ve been living with joint, back or neck pain and have tried conventional at-home treatments such as rest, ice or heat or over-the-counter pain medications without relief, consider scheduling an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. Many people wait too long before doing something about their pain and often say they wish they’d done something sooner—including Jerry, who got his active life back through total hip replacement surgery.

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tags: exercise