The New Year is upon us, and its diet season! But don’t neglect exercise, in fact, the three most important elements in terms of priority are (1) sleep, (2) diet, and (3) exercise. Combine these three for better overall health – it’s never too late to start!
Experts suggest 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical aerobic activity for a week or a combination of both these activities, are sufficient to be fit and healthy.
Exercise works like a magic pill to boost your overall fitness. Consistent physical activity has been shown to assist in the prevention and recovery from certain ailments, such as cancer, arthritis and even depression.
So how to get started?
First you will need to assess your level of fitness. Either you can go to a personal trainer to assist with this, or if you can do it yourself with a little bit of reading. Recording your baseline fitness scores helps you to measure your progress. Consider recording your body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, how many pushups you can do in 1 minute, how far you can lift your legs, and how long it takes for you to walk a mile. Record these along with the date, and repeat at the same time each week.
Design your fitness program
Consider your fitness goals and start creating a balanced routine. The beginning stages will have a lot of rest days in between to assist with recovery. Less rest days are needed as you progress. Try to build activity in your daily routine, start with walking for a minimum of 30minutes every morning for two weeks. Then add in a walk-jog option if you’re feeling stronger. Take the jog nice and slow, and listen to your body. Water exercises and swimming are excellent low-impact activities for beginners.
Alternate activities that emphasize different body parts. Try including High-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your fitness program once you have done at least one month of steady, gradual exercising. Writing your exercise schedule allows you to stay on track. Most importantly, allow time for recovery.
As you begin your workout, start slowly and increase the complexity of exercises gradually. Weave your activity throughout the day. Be creative and include activities you enjoy into your fitness routine. Grab an exercise partner if you can – they are always better motivation!
Let’s say you do biking, rowing, or walking, include hiking as a weekend activity. Try to listen to your body if you feel dizzy, suffer pain, shortness of breath, or nausea. Stop pushing yourself too hard and take a break. Be flexible and permit yourself to take rest for a couple of days. Remember to hydrate.
Monitor your progress
Do a personal fitness assessment after six weeks to monitor your progress. Set new goals and try different activities. Careful planning and pacing of your exercise routine can establish the habit to last a lifetime.
Safety tips to avoid injury
Typical forms of exercise injury include sprains, muscle strains, tendinitis, rotator cuff tears, ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), and meniscus tears of the knee. These injuries can get you laid up for days or weeks. So follow these tips while you work out.
Check with your doctor
Please consult your doctor before you start any new workout. They’ll check your ability levels and give you a customized workout plan should you have any health conditions.
Plan your workout carefully
Swimming or exercises using an elliptical exercise machine provides aerobic conditioning for women who have osteoporosis and arthritis without stressing their joints. Swimming is one of the best low-impact activities suitable for those who are carrying excess weight.
Learn the correct technique
First, learn the appropriate method of doing any new exercises. Ask a trainer or a physical therapist to tailor a workout according to your capabilities and health conditions. Correct technique prevents injury and activates the intended muscle groups.
There are high chances of injury if you start a new exercise or change an exercise program rapidly. Start gradually. For example, if you’re cycling, set the bike controls to the lowest tension and speed. As you gain practice, gradually increase the speed and intensity.
Warm-up and cool down
Since cold muscles are heavily prone to injury, warming up enhances blood flow to your working muscles. Dynamic stretching is ideal to do before you exercise and static stretching is appropriate for after your exercise, to stretch out the muscles for 30seconds each, reducing stiffness and flexibility.
Vary your workouts
Alternate your workout with different programs to work for different muscle groups and give your body a chance to recover between sessions.
Know when to rest
In the early stages, your body will require more rest than when you have been exercising for months. Listen to your body, and if at any stage there is pain, stop immediately. Get medical help if you have abnormal pain. Seek medical advice if you feel dizzy, suffer chest pain, or shortness of breath.
How to treat injuries
Preventive measures are not always foolproof. So, if you get a sprain or strain, its ideal to visit a doctor before you self-treat. However, if you are unable to visit one immediately, applying ice to the affected area for 10min (max) at a time helps with the swelling. Elevate the affected area to allow for inflammation to reduce.