Coming out of winter hibernation and getting back into shape can be difficult. Eventually, like most of us, you’ll find yourself longing to do more and sweat again. Whether you want to feel better, look better or live longer, make sure you are smart about it. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind while you shape up this spring.

Set realistic goals!
It won’t be easy. Endurance is among the first things we lose when we stop exercising. Start your new program slowly and gradually work your way up. Starting with intense workouts could lead to soreness, injury and aren’t realistic with most schedules. Try something simple like a 10-minute jog in your first week, 15 minutes for your second week and so forth. Also, adding variety to your routine is important; jog on day one, bike on the next day. Something as simple as increasing your daily steps above 10,000 can help create long lasting routines. If you don’t have a fancy wristband or pedometer try a free app like “Pacer” that logs your steps while your cell phone is in your pocket.

Try new things!
Try Yoga or Pilates. Certain muscles have been inactive for a while. You will feel muscle soreness as you start any new program. Yoga can increase flexibility, blood flow, and circulation. Yoga can be one of the first steps to naturally strengthen your muscles. Although you may not be an expert at first, you will improve your strength and flexibility. You will quickly notice the positive effects from yoga on the body and the mind. Most fitness facilities will allow you a one-time pass or offer a free pass to get started.

Don’t give up!
Have patience. It takes weeks to build new routines that stick. You are not going to feel or look the way you want after one day. It is important to let your body adapt to the changes of exercising again slowly. Don’t push too hard, too fast. Be patient. Also, don’t penalize yourself for slip ups. Not everyday will be perfect but every small improvement adds up to change.

Plan ahead!
It’s easy to fall into the fast food trap when we are busy and unprepared. Use your day off to prep and cook meals for the next few days. Stay to the outside of the grocery store when you shop; this is where the freshest items are. Explore your local farmers markets and pick the foods that are in season. Remember if it has a label it isn’t as fresh as it could be!

Drink Water!
Stay Hydrated. Water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated. Keeping your body hydrated helps the heart to pump blood through vessels more easily. Water helps the muscles work more efficiently as well. Drink water before, during and after your workouts.

Track your progress!
This doesn’t mean you should weigh yourself everyday. Instead, use apps like MyFitnessPal or Lose It to track your food. You may be surprised at what is hiding from you!