As the final days of summer loom, the focus moves from pool days and vacations to school supplies and scheduled routines. For many parents, having the kids home during the summer break results in a lot of quality family time, but also a lack of a scheduled routine…and consistent exercise. With the kids headed back to campus or the classroom and perhaps a few extra free hours in your day, there’s no better time to recommit to a fitness routine.

Here are a few tips to get your fitness routine back on track:

Start Slow

While you may have been getting moderate exercise through summer activities, if you haven’t had a vigorous workout all summer, start off slow. Build up your workout routine over the course of several weeks to avoid muscle pain or injury.

Set Realistic Goals

Take time to think about what you want to achieve and set daily goals to get there. It’s important to remember that if you set goals that are too difficult, you will be disappointed and give up.

Fill the Void

Having a few additional hours of alone time during the day with the kids back in school offers an ideal time to work out. Get the kids off to school and hit the gym, so exercise is checked off your to-do list before they get home.

Schedule It!

Back to school means back to a schedule. It can be tough to find time to exercise unless you schedule it. Consider your work, family, and volunteer obligations and find a gap in the day that works best for you. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, so be sure to schedule 30 minutes a day, five times a week.

Make Exercise Social

Each week, plan to spend some time in group exercise, whether walking or running with neighbors, hitting up a local fitness or yoga class, or participating in a recreational sport.

Try Something New

Vary your exercise routine to keep it fresh and fun. Try a new sport, change up your walking for running, or find a local fitness or dance class. One day each week, get out of the gym and try something new.

Authored by Zach Meeker, Research Assistant for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center

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