If you fell off the training car during the pandemic, it's time to step back on |

The struggle to get out of the pandemic cocoon is very real. We basically had 14 months of pandemic confusion in which everything routine and normal was thrown out the window.

For most people, fitness came first.

Some people used this time to get into the best shape of their lives. They’ve been able to think outside the box and try new things, and may have found that they like their new routines better than their old ones.

But many people were distracted and fell far from the exercise truck. Especially alabamans. According to Irunfar.com, the average home exercise session in Alabama was just 11 minutes during the pandemic.

Not that great – but at least we weren’t down. It was 6 minutes in Maine and 7 minutes in Arkansas.

All exercises are cumulative, so don’t get ready even if you only exercise for 11 minutes. Be nice to yourself and don’t focus on what you haven’t achieved. Do better next time. Everyone is in the same boat trying to navigate how to get life back on track safely, including exercise.

For those of us who are over 50 years old, there are a few things to consider if you are one of those who fell off the training cart. There are things that you should be doing in order to be successful and do what is best for your aging body:

Lift weights: Did you know that every decade we turn over 30 years old, we lose around 5-10% of muscle mass? That’s terrifying when you think about it. That’s why lifting weights is important folks!

If you didn’t do this before the pandemic, now is the time to start. At least twice a week, we should be lifting weights that are heavy enough to be a challenge. And not just arbitrarily. We need a plan, preferably a written plan, to make sure we cover all the bases and hold ourselves accountable.

Upper body on one day and lower body on the other day and core on both days. You can formulate your own full plan to get the results you want and focus on the goals you want to achieve.

Set goals: Speaking of goals, be sure and put some and write them down in a place where you can see them. Maybe not annual targets, but in 1-month or 3-month steps. Something that isn’t too daunting. Keep the goals simple and try not to think about them too much. Once you achieve that goal, increase the pace a little and make a new goal. Always strive to do better.

Find your tribe: Next, find a tribe to support you. Be it your husband or wife, children or neighbors or girlfriends. You need other people who have a similar desire to get fitter, get stronger, or run faster.

Since the COVID lockdowns ended, people have been flocking to gyms and running clubs, as well as hiking and cycling groups. Comradeship is more important today than ever. We all missed being part of the group. After all, a lot of group training is socialization – and that can keep us going when we stop wanting.

Try new things: My advice is to stay adaptable and try new things. And don’t be afraid to come back to it. Just come back, whether online or in person.

Don’t get fixated on numbers, whether it’s a number on a scale or the number of minutes you exercise. Every workout – short or long – is a win. Remember, we’re all in this together, so lean on your friends and family and get your body moving!

Ann Angell is a certified instructor and personal trainer. She is the fitness director of Calhoun County’s YMCA. Her column “Fitness over 50” appears every third weekend of the month.