Wow! It has been a long winter. I know there have been those days you just didn’t want to leave the house, or if you had to, you just couldn’t wait to get back home. With that being said, I am sure many of you have put exercise on the back burner.

After taking a few months off, it can be hard to get back into working out. We have all heard the tips on how to get back on that stationary bike after you’ve fallen off, but let’s hear it from the experts. I thought it would be fun to seek some advice from some of my awesome colleagues. As you read ahead, take to heart these ideas from fitness specialists at Great River Health Fitness to help you get motivated to make exercise part of your routine.

1 — For heaven’s sake, don’t overdo it! Kyle Gugelar says to slowly increase your daily activities—park farther away at the grocery store or make more trips up and down your stairs at home. Make your life more active. As you do, you may find yourself wanting to take the dog on a longer walk or getting outside to do yard work.

2 — Sean Colemon recommends finding a buddy to work out with you. He trains a group of women who make their workouts fun by socializing while exercising. Ariana Harris, a Western Illinois University exercise science major and student intern, says that has got her motivated. She now comes to the gym with her cousin and sister and doesn’t want to let them down by canceling.

3 — Speaking of fun, Ana Doonan says to do something you enjoy. To start off, find one activity you like and do that for a week. She thinks you will be wanting more once you get going.

4 — Document your workouts: write results down. Stacey Alvarez thinks you might be surprised how you will stick to an exercise program longer if you keep a journal of your workouts. If you are more “techie,” look for apps that can keep track of your exercise. It might just be the motivation  you’re looking for.

5 — When setting up a workout, your plan should include these three components — strength training, endurance activities and flexibility exercises. Dylan VanFleet cautions you to start out slowly with the weights — don’t go too heavy at first to set yourself up for failure. Tom Mueller agrees with him and also stresses that you must use good form while using strength training machines by not letting the weights rest in between repetitions and always remembering to breathe.

Dylan also says to not push too hard while doing cardio exercises. Don’t set the incline too high on a treadmill or start right out with running. If you haven’t exercised for quite some time, Dane Danforth suggested a daily walk might be a great starting point. Once you’ve been at it a while, incorporate a few hills into your route.

Along with the endurance and strength components, Demetrius Baker says to not forget the stretching. He starts every day with 15 minutes of it. You will be surprised how a few flexibility exercises can help with everyday activities. You can reach things in your cupboards, rake leaves, and pick up your grandchildren with less effort, plus it can help reduce aches and pains.

A fourth component? I believe that you’re never too young or old to work on your balance. Together, good balance and correct posture make daily chores easier and can also help prevent falls and other injuries.

6 — Monika Coursey is really thinking spring as she says to get outside, when weather permits, and take advantage of different things to enhance your workout. Walk up the steps by Snake Alley and then walk down the Alley or use an outdoor bench for push-ups.

Also thinking nicer weather is Hilary Beaird. She suggests working in some exercises as you enjoy the outside. Perform some squats while you’re waiting to flip a chicken breast or burger on the grill. As you’re cleaning out the garage, put on some music and dance. Get a group of friends or family together to play Ultimate Frisbee or some other game outside.

7 — A good, healthy diet goes right along with a good exercise plan. Aaron Brown says pizza can be a nutritious choice  —just watch what is on the pizza and the amount you eat. Keeping hydrated is very important throughout the day if you exercise or not. If you want to lose a little weight, Megan Burke says to drink a bottle of water before a meal to give you that “more full” feeling.

8 — Consistency, consistency, consistency! Stephie Libben says to put exercise on your calendar just as you would a meeting or appointment. Find the time that is right for you so you will make your workout a priority. I find laying out my workout clothes the night before helps motivate me to get up and hit the pavement in the morning. If after work is a better time, pack your gym bag the night before and take it with you.

If you have been hibernating from the gym or have put away your walking shoes this winter, let’s spring ahead into Daylight Savings time and spring back into exercise. Thanks to my wonderful colleagues for getting everyone motivated and for the helpful tips.

Julie Kirk is a fitness instructor at Great River Health Fitness. Her column appears in Currents the second Friday of each month.