As restrictions ease and opportunities for activity/exercise/sport increase, it can be important to reflect on how COVID-19 and the lockdowns have been affecting your activity levels compared to usual.
With the beginning of winter sport seasons close by it is further important to have a plan of how you can sensibly return to exercise in a safe and effective manner, especially as there may have been a 12-month gap in training/competitive play over COVID.
It is important to consider all exercise as loading on your body. Loading needs to be managed to avoid potential injuries due to over-training or under-training.
The most important things to consider are firstly, how much exercise and activity have you done throughout lockdowns; if you have done a lot less than usual you will need to have a slow gradual return to activity in which your intensity and duration of exercise increases over a period of weeks, so your body has time to adapt. If you have remained quite active over the past 6-12 months you will likely be able to return to your sport or gym at an accelerated pace as your body has remained conditioned to regular activity.
For gym-based training an example of a safe/easy return to training may be reducing your normal weight load by 50% for the first 2 weeks of training (slowly increasing repetitions), followed by 2 weeks at 75%, followed by a further 2 weeks at 90%. From this point, assess the difficulty and progress further as your body allows.
This example can be adapted to almost all activities/sport by simply using length of time or level of effort as the factor you are reducing.
Although it can feel effortless/boring to take these lighter training weeks, it will help reduce the risk of injury and setback as you return to sport/training. This will ensure a healthy progression and keep motivation and enjoyment levels high.