Back to news

Getting back into exercise

14 April 2014 Andrew Verdon

Don't forget to get lots of rest

"Don't forget to get lots of rest"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

Had some time away from exercise? Have you had a break of longer than around three weeks, competed in a physically demanding event or been out of action due to illness, injury or even surgery? By following a few steps you can safely get back into a routine with minimal risk and maximum benefits.

Recovery and return to full fitness takes time which we cannot change, but returning to your prior level requires some common sense and some expert strategy, which can reduce the time it does take.

Returning post-illness, injury or surgery and also after a period of extended inactivity.

The first and most important step is to get cleared for training by a medical professional. Ask them also for their advice on the best options for returning to activity, based on your situation and their experience.

The length of time away and nature of the illness will always dictate how best to reintroduce the body to exercise, with the aim being to slowly strengthen it, week by week. This is the same whether the break has been simply weeks, months or even years. The rule is Gradual Progression, and it always applies!

This means to start the exercise and intensity at a low to moderate level, which is with your heart rate below 120 beats per minute, then gradually lift the intensity over a period of time. Generally, aim to step your heart rate up by say 10-20bpm per month or as directed by a medical professional. If gym based exercise is on the menu, this means start with gentle, easier options or classes and then add load and more demanding types of training over time.

Post-event or after a physically demanding regatta.

The keys in the days and week after the event are:

  • Quality sleep
  • Good hydration
  • Regular stretching, which is three to four times a week, and
  • Massage - a good aim would be two to four times over an eight-week period.

Strength training:

  • Re-balance your body
  • Then reload, introducing new disciplines that focus on the movements that got secondary attention while you were training
  • Start with one set of low repetitions, all the while increasing rest and recovery time.

Cardio exercise:

  • Work in your aerobic energy system, gradually lifting the intensity (follow the tips above)
  • Cycling or swimming, which is low-impact yet tones your muscles and gradually increase cardio requirements, whilst giving your joints time to recover.


Rule Number One - Get cleared for training by a medical professional before starting and use an appropriate exercise or sports medicine professional to guide your return initially. The nature of the injury will always dictate how best to reintroduce the body to exercise.

Then take a measured approach by slowly strengthening the muscles, joints and tissue that have been inactive. Aim to keep moving the worst thing you can do is to stop exercising completely, even when doing your rehabilitation work.

Injuring one part of your body actually offers you the opportunity to focus on an area that you don't normally exercise. E.g. if you have a shoulder or knee injury you may try Pilates as an options to improve your posture, core strength and lower back stability.

Strength training:
Build up the core and foundational movements to get the body functioning as an integrated unit. Try using body weight, exercise bands and weights to increase strength and flexibility. Simple movements, which are less repetitive, are a good approach to work on flexibility, mobility and the smaller muscles that help with stability and good posture.

Cardio exercise:
If the injury impacted your lower body, try swimming with a pull buoy, water walking or running in the pool. If your upper body was affected, then try walking, cycling or swimming with a kickboard and flippers.

I think variety is always good and like the idea of moving between different cardio methods and using various forms in one session or in one week.

Starting over is an opportunity to build your base and improve your fitness and health, rather than a setback. I like to see it is a second chance to do things correctly!

How about hiking up the Japan Alps for exercise?

"How about hiking up the Japan Alps for exercise?"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,


Have you received the newsletter via email?

The eNews is sent to all Association members. If you've missed out on it, send your current email address to Kylie Wilson, the webmaster.

Publication Schedule - Submit a Story

Would you like to submit a story, or know when to expect your next eNewsletter?

Submission Due Dates:
1 July 2018
1 October 2018
1 December 2018
1 February 2019

Stories & questions to John Curnow.