With the resumption of sports and physical activities in phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening, you might be eager to get your health and fitness back on track at the gym after being sheltered at home for the last couple of weeks. To avoid injuries, it is important to ease back into your gym routine slowly and safely by monitoring and adjusting your workout intensity. With the help of the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale, you will be able to monitor and guide your exercise intensity accurately based on the observations of your heart and breathing rate as well as your muscle fatigue.
Rate of Perceived Exertion
The rate of perceived exertion refers to how much effort you perceive yourself putting in for a particular exercise or for a specific stage of that exercise. You will be able to measure your RPE based on the physical sensations you experience while exercising which include an increased heart, respiration or breathing rate.
Ranging from a scale of 1 to 10, the RPE is a fairly good estimation of your actual heart rate during a workout. Each individual’s heart rate differs based on age and physical condition. By multiplying your RPE by 10, you will be able to calculate your heart rate by the number of heart beats per minute. For instance, if your RPE is 12, your heart rate would be approximately 120 beats per minute.
If you choose to wear a mask during your workout, it is likely for your RPE to get higher. Hence, it is recommended for you to start at a low RPE (2 or 3) and work within your comfort levels. Monitor your RPE during your subsequent workout sessions and slowly get back to your usual workout intensity at a safe pace.
Get Sufficient Sleep
The amount of rest you have also plays an important role in getting you back to the fitness grind. Working out requires time and energy. As you are burning more calories, your body is trying to adapt to the increased stress level in the tissues and during this time, fatigue tends to kick in.
By keeping to a regular sleep schedule and avoiding alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals a few hours before hitting the sheets, your sleep quality at night might improve and this helps your body to get the restorative slumber it needs to heal and refuel from the fatigue.
After spending your day in the gym, pamper yourself with sufficient rest in order to make progression and perform better in your next session!
Warm Up and Cool Down For Every Workout
Insider mentioned in an article that one might experience delayed onset muscle soreness for up to 72 hours after a workout if the muscles have not been accustomed to strenuous activity for a period of time.
To avoid having your muscles feeling tight and achy for the next few days, try carrying out some stretches before and after each workout to protect your muscles and joints.
During a warm up, the cardiovascular exercises and stretches help your body to be ready for the workout followed by the gradual increase in your breathing and heart rate. On top of that, warming up before a workout also improves the blood circulation to your muscles, tendons and ligaments as your joints loosen to encourage blood flow to the muscles.
Lim Hun Teck, chief physiotherapist at Raffles Rehabilitation Centre shared that static stretches during a cool down are ideal for specific muscle injuries and they help in improving your flexibility and performances. However, refrain from carrying out static stretches during your warm up as it might decrease your performance in a workout.
Kick Start with Some Flexibility Workouts
Flexibility workouts help you increase your body’s blood flow and circulation while assisting in your range of motion and joint mobility. As you get back on track, your body needs time to accept the load you have dropped and by performing 10 to 15 flexibility movements for up to 1 minute before leaving the house, your body will be allowed to readjust to the new demands.
With improved flexibility, your body will be able to withstand more physical stress and this reduces your chance of getting injured while exercising. Last but not least, as your muscles are working more effectively, you might be able to perform better as well, with your body being able to carry out greater movements.
Never Leave Rest Day Out Of Your Routine
We understand that you might be looking forward to get back into form as soon as possible. However, it is important to give your body a break on your rest days so that it can repair and replenish itself after working hard.
On your rest days, you can still keep your body active without strenuous exercises by having a leisure stroll or a few light yoga moves to give it some time to recover and prepare for the days or weeks ahead.
As the saying goes, “Slow and steady wins the race”.
Instead of putting your body under immediate stress after months of inactivity, be patient, start slow and be gentle with your body. Build strength gradually to take on greater challenges on your fitness journey.
1. Insider. 2018. 13 Tips To Help You Get Back Into A Fitness Routine. [online] Available at: https://www.insider.com/how-to-start-working-out-again-2018-9#start-small-every-little-bit-counts-3 [Accessed 16 June 2020].
2. Healthline. 2019. RPE: What Does This Scale Tell You About Exercise?. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/RPE#measurements [Accessed 16 June 2020].
3. Cdc.gov. 2020. Perceived Exertion (Borg Rating Of Perceived Exertion Scale) | Physical Activity | CDC. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/measuring/exertion.htm [Accessed 18 June 2020].
4. ActiveSG. 2016. The Importance Of Warming Up. [online] Available at: https://www.myactivesg.com/read/2016/12/the-importance-of-warming-up#:~:text=The%20key%20to%20a%20great,before%20starting%20a%20physical%20activity.&text=It%20reduces%20the%20chances%20of,flexible%20after%20a%20good%20stretch [Accessed 18 June 2020].
5. Shape Singapore. 2016. 5 Effective Cool Down Exercises | Shape Singapore. [online] Available at: https://www.shape.com.sg/fitness/5-effective-cool-down-exercises/ [Accessed 19 June 2020].
6. Shape. 2020. How To Get Back In Shape When You Haven't Been To The Gym In Ages. [online] Available at: https://www.shape.com/fitness/how-get-back-working-out [Accessed 19 June 2020].
7. Healthline. 2020. 6 Ways That Being Flexible Benefits Your Health. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-flexibility#stretches [Accessed 19 June 2020].