So its 2016 and you’ve decided to make a healthy lifestyle change and to exercise more. Firstly, congratulations for doing so! So what next?
We are bombarded with so much information on what is the best form of exercise, how often to do it, when to do it, why to do it aaaaand the list goes on….. and on. It can be pretty confusing at the best of times, but especially so if regular exercise is not your forte. So lets simplify things a little.
Firstly, do what interests you.
This is one key aspect of lifestyle change that is commonly overlooked. What am I interested in? For exercise to be successful it is essential that you enjoy it. If the exercise that you participate in makes you unhappy you’re hardly going to commit to it and adopt it into your lifestyle long term.
If you are doing something that is fun, you are also more likely to want to do it better! To do this you may consider a strength and conditioning program to improve performance. More physical activity, means more improvements in health.
Whoa! Eeeasy now.
When starting exercise for the first time, or getting back into it after a long hiatus, the mind is willing but the body is…… not so much. It’s best not to go charging into it like a bull at the gate. 10 points for effort! However it pays to remember that the body needs time to adjust to the increase in demands.
A crucial element in exercise then is rest. Your body adapts to a stimulus imposed upon it at rest. No rest, means no adaptation. If you go too hard; too early; too often; your body may respond poorly to a rapid increase in volume.
An easy guide for the exercise beginner is to monitor your muscle soreness after sessions. After a bout of exercise you should feel stiff in the worked muscles the next day. This is totally ok! But if it is now 2 days after exercising and you’re still feeling much worse, you may need to pull back a little in intensity. Better to exercise 3 days a week and feel a little bit sore, than do one day and be so sore that you’re unable to exercise for the rest of the week. You may then be completely negating all of the hard work you put into that one session.
Trust your judgement.
This is very important at any stage of training. Just remember that you have been in your body for your lifetime. So nobody knows you, like you. There are plenty of ways to skin a cat, (please note that skinning of cats is not a suggested form of physical activity, just a figure of speech) so work with your coach or exercise professional to find another way or to help analyse and improve your movement patterns. A good coach will listen and help you problem solve, not just tell you to “suck it up”.
Where am I?
If you really want to start an exercise program and you are concerned that it may have a negative effect on your health, it would be a good idea to get assessed by an Exercise Physiologist. Through the use of exercise testing, Exercise Physiologists are able to provide you with safe guidelines to minimise harm.
So get out and start moving. But most important of all, have fun.
B.ExSci&Nut, M.ClinExPhys, AEP, ESSAM
Michael is a masters qualified Exercise Physiologist with 5 years of clinical experience. During this time he has successfully applied exercise protocols to treat neurological, metabolic and cardiopulmonary disease.