Has it been a while since you exercised? It’s normal to put exercise on the back burner if you’re sick, working a lot or on vacation. Take it slowly when you’re easing back into your exercise routine. Don’t push yourself too hard or else you may injure yourself. When you go back to the gym or start any other exercise routine, it helps to know how to begin. Here are tips for getting back into shape the right way.

Take things slowly

In the beginning, exercise half as much as you used to. Start out by stretching your muscles. You’ll need to become flexible again. Begin with one move at a time or completing up to 10 minutes of an exercise. If you start slowly, you’ll be more willing to continue exercising after the second or third week of your new routine.

Stretch with yoga

One of the best ways to become flexible is to do some basic yoga moves. Start with an online video. If you go to a gym, consider a beginner yoga class. Easy yoga positions gently stretch your body. Beginner poses that you can do at home include:

  • Easy pose
  • Child’s pose
  • Legs-up-the-wall pose
  • Downward-facing dog pose

Add in walking

In addition to stretching, start an easy cardiorespiratory — meaning it involves your heart and lungs — workout, such as a short, brisk walk that lasts up to 20 minutes. Or, use a treadmill or stationary bike at a gym. Adding in some cardio exercise helps your heart and lungs work better and gets your body moving again.

Schedule workouts

Writing down when you want to exercise can keep you on track. Remember that, in the beginning, even once a week is better than nothing. If you start exercising every day, you may feel a little burnt out or injure yourself. Too much exercise too soon can be tiring, too. Every week, add a little more exercise to your schedule.

Be realistic

When you begin exercising again, it only takes about two weeks to start feeling good again. You’ll start to feel like you can move better and breathe easier. Give your new routine for at least two weeks. Then, see how you feel before you start adding in more exercises.

Remember the benefits

You’ll start to remember the positive benefits of exercise after your first workout. But remember the long-term benefits of exercise, too. By starting to move your body again, you’ll keep yourself in top health. Exercise benefits both your mind and body. In addition to reducing pain and the risk of developing diseases, here’s how you may benefit over time:

  • You lose weight.
  • You have more energy.
  • Your heart gets even healthier.
  • You feel happier and more relaxed.
  • You strengthen your muscles and bones.

Have fun

If you’re restarting your routine, try something new. Maybe it’s time to go rock climbing, swimming or even salsa dancing. When exercise is exciting or social, you’ll feel more excited to get out and start your workout.