What is always the toughest part of an exercise programme? Getting started. Always! If you decide that you are going to be a priority in your life and you’re going to set the time aside, you’ll feel so much better for it. I should know! I started regular exercise at the ripe old age of 47. I’m now 50 and I’m the fittest, strongest and healthiest I have ever been.
What to do and how? You might want to throw yourself in at the deep end and start rigorously thinking you’ll get results faster but, if you haven’t exercised for a while, it’s better to start slow and steady as it is the most effective and safest way to begin.
Consulting your doctor before beginning any physical activity is also wise if you have an existing health condition, eg. high blood pressure or diabetes, and also if you haven’t exercised in a long time.
The key to success is to establish an exercise programme you will enjoy and can sustain:
- You may prefer to exercise at home to a DVD like Jillian Michaels’ home workout series. This is more economical and convenient than joining a fitness class or the gym, but it will be you that drives your success and you will need a high level of self motivation to stick with your program.
- Exercising at a fitness club is a good choice if you like being around other people and a range of exercise options – machines, free weights, fitness classes and personal trainers.
- Whether at home or at a gym, it’s important to choose activities that you can do all year round. Try to have indoor and outdoor options so you can’t use the excuse of boredom or the weather to skip exercising.
A balanced exercise programme that will get the best results will incorporate:
Aerobic exercise improves the health of your heart, lungs and vascular system. It also helps you manage your weight because it burns more calories. Examples include hill walking, swimming, or the rower or treadmill at the gym.
Stretching improves your range of motion and how well you move. Flexibility exercises also help lessen muscle tension and soreness and reduce your risk for injury. A good personal trainer will help you with a stretching programme at the gym. Yoga and Pilates are also ideal for flexibility training.
Strength training is good for both your muscles and bones. Stronger bones and muscles reduce your risk of injury. Increased muscle mass helps your body burn more calories and provides a ‘toned’ look to your body. Examples are push ups (using your own body weight) or free weights and/or machines at the gym.
- Establish a routine and follow a weekly schedule. Consider yourself important and keep to your times.
- Keep exercise interesting and enjoyable by varying your routines and activities. Listen to music, it can be very motivating and uplifting - there's some great workout music available. Exercise with a friend/s.
- Don’t stop exercising if you have muscle soreness. The soreness you experience the day after you exercise is normal and will go away as you exercise regularly. If you experience severe pain or swelling, however, stop exercising and rest.
- Work towards a goal, eg. a fun run or a hiking trip.
- Keep a diary of accomplishments – no matter how small. When you feel like giving up, sit down and have a look at your diary. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come and give yourself a pat on the back.
- Don’t stop! The benefits from exercise begin to diminish in only 2 weeks and disappear completely in 2 to 8 months.
With statistics telling us that 52% of all New Zealand adults are obese or overweight, there could never be a better time to brush off your lycra and get started. Whichever way you decide to get exercising, be proud that you have. Whether you’re doing star jumps in your living room or joining the gym, know that you are at the start of a journey that will not only make you healthier, but happier too.
Write to us at Gorgeous Me with your inspirational exercise stories.
Next time I’ll tell you a bit about me and how I came to a new career of Personal Training at the age of 49! Until then….