Considering getting back to exercise in 2020? I’ve been writing this post for a few days now… thinking about everyone who’s waiting to turn a new page in 2020, set goals and get back to exercising.

But here’s the thing.

We want you to exercise -trust us we do.  However, more than anything we want you to be kind to your body and that means getting back to exercise in smart way. ‘In a smart way’ means that after 3 days of giving it your all you’re not so sore that you give up because you can’t walk up the stairs or sit on the toilet seat properly.

Or that when you’re doing jumps in your new cardio class or skipping using that new fitness app, that you’re leaking and ignoring it.

Those are all signs that you’re working harder than you’re ready for.

So before you go all out on Jan 1st or 2nd. There’s a few things we want to remind you of.

1) The Principle of Exercise Reversibility.

Better known as  use it or lose it.  And although I wish it wasn’t true. It is – even in highly trained athletes.  If you’re not engaging in specific exercise regularly, you start losing fitness gains in only 2 weeks – 2 weeks!

In fact, one study investigated athletes engaging in cardiovascular exercise, who had been training consistently for a year and then stopped training. Within 3 months of stopping their training, they had lost about half of their aerobic conditioning. After 6 months of not training, these well-trained athletes had complete loss in aerobic gains.

So did you take a couple of months off during pregnancy or postpartum ? Or have you been busier than normal the last few weeks or months?  That’s okay.  Life happens. But just remember that you shouldn’t just jump right back in where you left off. You need to start slow and listen to your body.

2)  Leaking (urine or stool).

Leaking anything, feeling vaginal heaviness or feeling like there’s something in your vagina during or post exercise, increased back or pelvic pain, or generally feeling awful after exercise are all signs you’re working outside your current training capacity.

These are what we like to refer to as exercise “red flags”. They should not be ignored. Stop. Do NOT pass Go.

Go directly to your nearest women’s health physiotherapist.

These are all signs that your core and pelvic floor are not meeting the demands you are putting on them,  or managing intraabdominal pressure the way they should.  They are warning signs. I like to refer to them as the vital signs of your core.

We often have so many patients come to see us and they say “I totally thought it was normal to leak at the end of my run or every time I skipped rope or did jumps”.

Common. Yes. Normal No. 

3) The 10% Exercise Recommendation.

Did you know that it’s recommended that training intensity (how hard you exercise) and duration (how long you exercise) should only be increased by ~ 10% a week.

Research has demonstrated that increasing training at 10% a week has a reduced risk of injuries and an increased rate of compliance (aka you stick with it!).  Just food for thought when you’re thinking about how to progress your training in the new year. Haven’t run in 6 months? Maybe a 30 minute walk is okay compared to going out and running 5 kms for the first time out.

When you’re exercising using a scale called the rate of perceived exertion (or RPE) scale is helpful. You should aim as if you’re working at a ~4/10, or breathing heavily but able to carry on a conversation. This is a pretty reliable method to know you’re working your cardiovascular system at a demanding but safe capacity.

So here’s our advice for getting back to exercise in 2020:

Be Kind. Be Honest. Be Realistic.

It’s okay to go slow.

Be honest with yourself. When did you last exercise?

Do you feel good after an exercise session or worse than when you started?

Are you leaking with jumps? Impact? Or certain movements?

It’s okay to go slow. It’s okay to start with 10 minutes.

And don’t be afraid to get advice. Reach out to a health professional who can help guide you, particularly if you have certain health concerns or are not sure where to get started.

So there you have it – our advice for getting back to exercise in 2020. Be Kind.

Have more questions about your core and pelvic floor muscles? Check out more of our online education at Motherhood Link.

Looking to purchase our Online Prenatal Pelvic Health: Core and Pelvic Floor Basics? Click here to find our course designed to prepare your core and pelvic floor for birth!

Eryn & Katie

Motherhood Link