Find an exercise you enjoy!
Your aim here is for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on most daysof the week - moderate intensity activity being anything causing a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate. It’s all very well to launch into new physical activity in a burst of inspiration, but to reap the full lifelong benefits you have to DO IT REGULARLY, so you need to find something you enjoy doing.
- Choose something you enjoy and that is readily available
Finding a physical activity you enjoy, and that is easy to build into your regular routine, is really important if you are going to stick at it. Choose types of exercise that need minimal equipment, no specific venue, minimal or no ongoing costs, and no other team members makes them easy to do spontaneously. Brisk walking is a good example.
- Choose more than one type of exercise
Exercising the same way every day can not only becoming monotonous, but it can increase the risk of injury and will restrict the benefits you obtain from exercise. Analternative exercise will add variety, and by working different muscles on different days you will help reduce risk of injury.
- Vary the intensity of your exercise
Highly trained athletes often train according to the ‘hard-easy’ principle whereby oneday of intense exercise is followed by a day of low intensity exercise, and so on. This principle can also apply if you have a lower level of fitness: it will help avoid injury and will allow your muscles time to recover from hard work.
- Choose exercises that addresses all aspects of physical fitness
Select a range of exercise options that include things such as hand-weights training for strength, walking, jogging or cycling for aerobic fitness and endurance, and yoga or stretching exercises for flexibility.
- Join a class or social sports team
You may like the discipline of attending a regular class or course or joining a social sports team; this can tend to make you try harder than you would on their own.
Check your local newspaper for local fun runs and walks. The sports pages often have ads from local teams and clubs hoping to recruit new members. Community centres and adult education colleges often offer classes in activities such as dance, yoga or pilates as well as classes for the older exerciser. You can also search the internet or Yellow Pages for local sports clubs or outdoor activity groups.
- Choose exercise options that don’t depend on good weather
Having both indoor and outdoor exercise options means that you don’t need to be stuck on the couch when the weather closes in.
- Choose exercise options that can become part of your routine
Some types of exercise are ideal for becoming part of your usual day, eg, getting off the bus or train a stop early could build a 20-minute walk into both ends of your day.
Increasing the incidental activity in your day can bring health benefits, eg, by helping to burn calories and manage your weight. Sweep the driveway rather than power blasting it with a leaf blower, and walk to the shop for milk rather than driving. On work days take the stairs rather than the lift, and walk to the park for lunch.
- Choose an exercise that accommodates any health problems
If you are over 40, or overweight, or you’ve been inactive for a long time, have existing health problems, or old or recent muscle, bone or joint injuries, see you doctor before starting or re-commencing regular exercise.
Being unwell or having an injury does not usually rule out exercise, in fact, it is often a vital part of rehabilitation. However, exercise in this context may mean you need to re-think your approach to physical activity under guidance from your doctor or healthcare professional.
Many people with asthma find they can achieve high levels of fitness through swimming, as the air they are breathing during this exercise is warm and moist and less likely than cold, dry air to trigger an asthma attack. Long-term conditions such as high blood pressure can be improved by appropriate amounts of daily exercise, while the risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes or osteoporosis can be reduced.
People with arthritis are often suited to exercising in a swimming pool as the buoyancy of the water avoids weight-bearing stress being placed on inflamed joints. Weak upper leg muscles and poor balance in some older people can mean that a recumbent stationary bicycle is particularly suited to encouraging exercise without causing discomfort or risking injury.
- Choose to exercise with a friend
Keeping up the motivation to exercise regularly is a challenge for many people.Including your friends in your new-found exercise interest might include booking a court for weekly social tennis, organising a bushwalk with your friends and following it with a barbecue, or arranging to walk each morning with a friend who lives nearby.
- Do you need a personal trainer?
A qualified personal trainer can help you make the most of the time that you have put aside from your busy life for exercise, as well as help motivate you, help you with technique, monitor your progress, adjust your exercise programme in response to your changing fitness level, and offer alternative exercise options to keep up your enjoyment level.
Whichever exercise options or strategies you use to keep motivated, remember to start off slowly and build up gradually. Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast: progression in fitness occurs over weeks and months, not days. Increase only one exercise variable at a time — how long your exercise session lasts (duration), how hard you work during the exercise (intensity) or the number of exercise sessions each week (frequency) — and only by a small amount, say 10% each week.
COMMON EXERCISE ACTIVITIES
The great thing about the gym is it offers somewhere warm and dry to work out and a really wide range of options. You can run, row, cycle, use weights to train or you can join an aerobics, dance or yoga class. Best of all, when you join most gyms they help you work out an exercise programme to suit your needs, and offer training to use the equipment.
It’s worth visiting a few to find one where you feel comfortable and confident. Don’t be shy about asking the person you have been assigned lots of questions – if you don’t like their manner, ask for someone else. If going to the gym is a real turn off, get yourself a set of hand weights and go through your routine in your backyard or even at the beach!
By exercise standards, walking is gentle on the joints and it’s really economical too! By walking regularly we can improve the condition of our heart and lungs (cardiovascular fitness), work the muscles of the lower body, and probably improve our bone density – very important to help offset osteoporosis.
Although our daily routine sees most of us on our feet at some point, research shows we don’t walk as much as we used to. In the UK, the Government has calculated the number of miles walked since the mid-1980s has fallen by more than 20%. Yet walking is one of the easiest activities to fit into our lives.
Running is another great way to get fit. You don’t need expensive equipment; you can do it anywhere – even on the spot - and make it work around your schedule. Even better, it really works! If you have a history of the following conditions, consider consulting your doctor first: diabetes,chest pain, angina, asthma,epilepsy, high blood pressure. Also consider a visit to your doctor if you have recently undergone surgery, are pregnant, or are overweight, as running can put more stress on your joints than activities such as walking and cycling.
Although anyone can run, if you are new to exercise, or haven’t been physically active for a while, it’s a good idea to take it slowly:
- Start off walking for 20 to 30 minutes, 4 days a week at a comfortable pace.
- Begin alternating 2 to 5 minutes of brisk walking with 2 to 5 minutes of easy walking, gradually increasing the ratio of brisk to easy.
- Once you’ve worked up to 30 minutes of brisk walking, try alternating running and walking, at a pace that is comfortable for you.
- As the weeks pass, increase the ratio of running to walking until you are running for the whole 30 minutes. But just listen to your body and don’t feel pressured to go too fast.
- You should never feel sore or fatigued after exercise.
Swimming is a great all-round exercise and extremely gentle on the joints. If you don’t know how to swim, most pools offer lessons, and for those who have already been bitten by the swimming bug, many pools have squads for training.
Just swimming a few lengths involves most of the major muscle groups, which gives your body a good workout. By moving faster through the water you’ll enjoy an aerobic workout too, and swimming is great for fat-burning. According to BBC Health, research has revealed that exercising in waist-deep water reduces the pressure on joints by 50%, while exercising in chest-deep water reduces it by as much as 75%.
Swimming New Zealand, the national organisation which represents swimming, believes it is fantastic for cross-training when mixed with other exercise.Tanya Cates, fitness and health educator and associate Lecturer at La Trobe University, says: “Using the water for swimming or other ways such as water running can be a lovely way to decrease the amount of impact training you are doing with normal walking or running.”
According to the Arts Council England, the benefits of dance not only include a healthy body, but a healthy mind. Dance can bring a wide range of physical and mental advantages, including:
- Healthier heart and lungs.
- Stronger muscles.
- Stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis.
- Better co-ordination, agility and flexibility.
- Improved general and psychological wellbeing.
- Greater self-confidence and self-esteem.
Don’t worry if your co-ordination isn’t the best, the idea is to enjoy moving to music and you can always do it in the privacy of your own home. However, joining a dance class can be a great way to meet people.