5 Easy Tips for Starting a New Exercise Routine in 2022

Emily Boynton Fact Checked
Illustration of dumbbells
© Giada Canu / Stocksy United

Ready or not, a new calendar year is coming.  

If we’ve learned anything in the last couple of years, it’s that life is uncertain and can throw a mean curveball (or five). We’ve also learned we’re resilient, and we’ve found ways to take care of ourselves through it all. 

One way many people have learned to cope? Exercise.  

Whether you’re looking to refresh your fitness routine or get back to working out, here’s what to expect in the upcoming year of exercise — and how to make adding movement into your daily routine easer.  

2022 fitness trends 

The upcoming year in fitness will be centered around two ideas: socializing and safety.  

“Trends are going to be similar to last year,” says Dr. Erek Latzka, a sports medicine specialist who sees patients at Harborview Medical Center and at the Sports Medicine Center at Husky Stadium

He and Dr. Ahmed El-Sayed, a physical medicine and rehabilitation and sports medicine fellow at UW School of Medicine, anticipate a continued increase in home exercise routines, including online classes, fitness apps, outdoor exercise and at-home exercise equipment usage.  

They also foresee people finding ways to bring social aspects of exercise back without compromising safety, such as competing against friends in fitness apps, joining small group classes, exercising with others outdoors or creating a bubble to participate in sports.  

No matter where you fall on the COVID-19 comfort spectrum, you’ll have options. If you feel more comfortable staying at home, there will be plenty of online exercise classes to join. And if you are looking for some in-person activity, there will be safer ways to exercise outside and in small, vaccinated groups.  

How to start your 2022 fitness routine (and make it last) 

Getting back into a fitness routine or switching up your current one can be exciting — and a little challenging. Try these tips to make things a bit easier.  

Start slow 

You want to ease your way into a new workout regimen to help prevent injury.  

“People are surprised by is how much they’ve regressed over the year in the pandemic. You need to adjust your expectations on exercise capacity for short-term activities you used to do and work back up to where you used to be in terms of endurance, strength and aerobic exercise,” says Dr. Eric Chen, a physiatrist who sees patients at Harborview Medical Center, Sports Medicine at South Lake Union and the Sports Medicine Clinic at Northwest Outpatient Center.  

Most overuse injuries occur if you haven’t been doing an activity for around six months, then suddenly start exercising daily and pushing your body to do more than it is ready for, he says.  

Other helpful injury-prevention tips include adding a warmup before your exercise and a cool down afterward. Starting slow can be annoying, but it will help prevent injury and allow you to sustain your routine so you can build to more intense exercise.  

Be social safely 

Exercising with others plays a huge role in keeping you accountable to your workout routine — and making it fun. If you’re hoping 2022 is the year you can return to fitness with friends, there are ways to stay safe while sweating it out. 

This looks like getting vaccinated, getting a booster shot, exercising outside and wearing a mask in indoor settings.  

“I know there’s a lot of people uncomfortable wearing masks, especially during exercise, but there isn’t any data out there that it’s dangerous to wear a mask while exercising,” Latzka says.  

Other options include forming a small group with others who are vaccinated or participating in outdoor activities like hiking and biking.  

Listen to your body 

Calling all at-home athletes and app users: Pay attention to how your body feels when you exercise.  

“You need to know your own body,” Latzka says. “If something is being recommended by a coach or instructor and they can’t see your form and give immediate feedback, there’s a potential you’ll do it incorrectly, which could later lead to injury.” 

This means if a pose or movement causes sharp pain, you should stop — regardless of what your app or online instructor says. 

You might not be ready for the move yet or you might need some adjustments in your form to safely complete the move. 

Similarly, exercising shouldn’t cause pain for days after you work out. While working out will likely cause some muscle soreness and discomfort, if you experience pain that increases and lasts for more than a week after you exercise, you should check in with your doctor, Latzka says. 

Prep for Pacific Northwest weather 

If you’re feeling cooped up at home, it might be time to take your exercise efforts outside.  

Prepare for outdoor fitness activities by layering clothing for warmth, including hats and gloves, and packing some dry clothes if you think you might get wet on a hike or out skiing or snowboarding. 

Be sure to pack plenty of food and water for longer excursions. And Chen recommends using hiking poles to help protect your joints if you will be hiking for longer distances.  

It’s also important to consider the time of day you’ll be exercising. If you’re on a mountain during the day, you’ll want to lather on some sunscreen, and if you’re on a run at night, be sure to wear reflective gear and/or a headlamp.  

Cross train and rest 

Set yourself up for success (and avoid burnout and injury) by creating a workout routine that is sustainable.  

“If you’re starting a new activity, you don’t want to do it every day when you start. You want to give yourself an off day to recover and see how you feel 48 hours from when you start again,” Latzka says.  

A balanced routine includes a mix of resistance weight training, cardiovascular or aerobic exercise, and rest, he says. This means if you’re a runner, plan for a couple days of body weight exercise plus rest; if you’re a weightlifter, add in some cycling, running or swimming plus rest.  

By adding cross training and rest into your fitness routine, you’ll avoid putting too much stress on your tendons, muscles and bones. You’ll also create a routine you can stick with — and that you enjoy doing.