Fitness: After the winter break: How to get back to the sport

At the beginning of the year, many would like to get off the couch and start exercising. However, traps await – from overmotivation to lack of body awareness. What tricks help now.

Matthias Maier sits in his modern gym augsburg, he has worked as a personal trainer for more than ten years. Maier does not have to think long. In fact, the situation is often the same: “Most of the customers who come to us have previously had a level that they liked. But it has been neglected for the last five, ten or twenty years, ”says Maier. The causes of the lost athletic fitness are professional or family obligations and the time factor in general. Many people want to return to their former sportiness. “Some even try first, but often give up quickly. That is why we have the largest influx in March, where many realize that they cannot do it alone, ”Maier sums up.

The figures from the current consumption and media analysis (VuMA Touchpoints 2022) are revealing in this context. More than 28 million adults in Germany do not play sports – and more than eight million only rarely. So it is not surprising that the decision to practice more sport again is very far advanced in the last Forsa survey in late 2021. For many people, the focus is on the motivation to strengthen their own body and prevent disease.

Tip 1: Do not overload yourself, beware of overmotivation, start slowly

Johannes Laws-Hofmann, sports researcher and training expert at AOK Bayern, knows these “initial sparks” very well. It does not matter if it is New Year’s resolutions, bad results from the doctor, all of these are drivers. “The risk of overload is very high, as many people feel bad about their bodies, so stressful situations are misjudged. Then there is the over-motivation, ”says Laws-Hofmann. When you return to the sport, you often train too intensely so that your body cannot regenerate. After a workout, you should still be mentally fresh and feel that the workout was too easy. Complete exhaustion, on the other hand, is a warning signal from the body.

Exercise is an effective remedy for high blood pressure, but patients can do more.

Photo: Christin Klose, dpa

To address these risks, Laws-Hofmann has a simple rule of thumb: “For every year I have been physically inactive, I must calculate one month of continuous training. If I have not done anything for ten years, it will take me about a year to get back to my old status. ” The problem: Cardiovascular systems can quickly adapt again, but ligaments and joint systems take much longer.

Tip 2: Endurance sports, train with the group

The question of the right sport therefore arises early. Endurance sports are particularly suitable to start with, as they have positive effects against widespread diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes and can also be practiced with a partner or in groups.

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In the Corona years, hiking has grown into a major trending sport. Thomas John, chairman of the Augsburg section of the German Alpine Federation, points out: “Hiking should be organized realistically in relation to one’s own technical ability.” It also means the requirements for one’s own fitness as well as joints and muscles.

Tip 3: Schedule two to three days of rest, even when hiking

If you want to start hiking successfully, it makes sense to do a lot for your physical condition beforehand. Walking, cycling or jogging can help, as well as choosing small walks to start with. During the hike, it makes sense to walk steadily and calmly with smaller steps so as not to waste energy. As with other endurance sports, it is advisable to increase gradually.

So the dosage is crucial, especially in the beginning. At least one or two days of rest should be planned between sessions to give the body the time it needs to regenerate and build the necessary structures. “Some customers need to be taught the importance of a set routine and taking responsibility for their own time management,” says Matthias Maier.

Tip 4: Set resolutions, but please make them realistic

Resolutions should be built on a long-term basis, which can also mean making two sports units a week instead of four, which then really have substance. From Matthias Maier’s point of view, formulating a firm decision is the first key to success. It’s not about putting yourself under pressure and striving to make everything perfect right from the start. What Maier recommends to everyone is pure exercise, 30-60 minutes a day. A walk is enough. If a unit of strength is added, this is a good start.

This article is in collaboration with the master’s program in specialist journalism Würzburg-Schweinfurt University of Applied Sciences developed.

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