After putting it off for so long for various reasons, you're finally taking the plunge on something that everyone says is good for you: Starting an exercise routine.
But where exactly do you start if you've never stepped foot into a gym before and have no idea what all those machines do, or you're just getting back into it after a period of physical inactivity?
Don't worry, we're here to help you out with some helpful tips that'll get you exercising for those 30 or so minutes at least three times a week that scientists say is fantastic for our health (because it is).
So why should I exercise anyway?
Because it's good for you! Exercise has been scientifically proven to improve your health in several significant ways, such as helping you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, helping you sleep better (beyond just pure exhaustion), improving your mood and mental health, and giving you more energy for the day. In short, exercise is great in every way.
Okay, how should I get started then?
Now before you start diving into a pool or going on three-hour runs, there are a few things you need to consider before you get started on the actual exercise part which we'll dive into right here.
Consider checking up on your health first
If you've never really had an exercise routine or you're just getting back into it after some time away, we recommend getting a physical check up beforehand to see where your health is at first. Not only will this give you an idea on how fit you are and thus how at risk of injury you may be, but it will help optimise your exercise routine as you'll understand your physical limitations.
Set some (realistic) goals and build up
It's great to say "I want to run a marathon" or "I want to beat Rafael Nadal in tennis", but setting some attainable goals will help keep you motivated to exercise regularly. Let's say you actually do want to run a 15km marathon, you can build up to it with some smaller goals that start with 1km daily runs and gradually work towards your target. Be realistic with your goals because reaching too far too soon will blunt your motivation to exercise.
Look, we want to look ripped and be fit after just a week of working out but it's a process that takes time and it all starts somewhere. 30 minutes of fast walking or light jogging to get your heart rate up every day is enough to get started for beginners, and you can gradually increase the intensity as you get fitter. No need to go all in on the gyms and ocean swims right away!
Cool, any useful tips or advice for my exercise routine?
Sure do, we've got some more tidbits to help you get started:
Aways make time to exercise
It's easy to say "eh, I'll work out tomorrow" and then never follow through on it, so make sure that you schedule your workouts into your daily routine. Exercising is a long-term thing so don't give up before you start seeing (and feeling) the benefits. It's normal to struggle to get up early for a workout or exercising after a long day at work, but as you get into the routine it gets easier. As the saying goes, this isn't a sprint it's a marathon.
There are plenty of reasons why it's hard to carve out 30 minutes a day for exercise, however the science behind it is pretty convincing: just watch this video to see what a difference 30 minutes can make to your overall health.
Comfortable clothes and shoes are your friend
Make sure you're wearing clothing that you feel comfortable moving about and sweating in, and shoes that fit well and provide support. The shoes are particularly important as a poor-fitting shoe can cause injury or blisters.
Warming up and cooling down
Warming up and cooling down your muscles and joints is important as this will help minimise the risk of injury. Take a few minutes at the start of every workout to stretch or do some light jogging/cycling to warm everything up. At the end of every workout, take another few minutes to slow down, breathe, and allow your body to cool back down to its normal state.
Diet is as important as the sweating
Exercising is great, but what you're eating to fuel your exercise is just as important. It's tempting to just operate on a diet of junk food, but this will only cancel out all the work you're doing, as well as making you feel sluggish. Swap out those burgers and pizzas for fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains instead.
Choose what activity is right for you
Everyone exercises differently and enjoys different activities, so make sure you're doing something you actually enjoy. If lifting heavy weights at the gym isn't for you then maybe swimming is more your thing. Perhaps you like the social aspect of exercise so perhaps playing a team sport or joining a group fitness class suits you best. Just remember that it's perfectly okay that you don't enjoy an activity in the beginning, that will come with time. If it doesn't, then you can always look for something else that suits you better.
If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app to connect to our team of qualified, caring health professionals.
Image credit: Pain and Gain
All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.