Exercise is so important and it’s never too late to start. Whatever your age and fitness level, you will reap the benefits. It has so many benefits including more strength, better mood, the ability to carry on doing everyday tasks as well as health benefits including reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. Why wouldn’t you want this fantastic prescription for health and fitness? If you have never exercised or haven’t exercised for a long time, it can be a little daunting but here is our guide for starting to exercise safely.
- Firstly, make sure that you are medically fit to exercise. If you have any illness, injuries or any doubt whether you should be exercising then please see your doctor to get the all clear before embarking on an exercise plan.
- Think about why you want to exercise. It’s important to understand why you are doing this. Do you want to get stronger, tone, lose weight, have more flexibility and mobility, or simply improve your health, fitness and mood, and why? Is it because you want to be able to play with your grandchildren, be able to carry on doing the gardening, shopping, housework or are you planning a holiday, wedding etc? Knowing why you want to exercise and what your goals are will help you to keep focused on those days when you really don’t want to exercise or feel like giving up.
- Be kind to yourself. Don’t worry if you aren’t as fit as you would like to be, or if you think you won’t be able to do the exercises. That’s exactly why you’ve decided to start exercising. Begin slowly and your fitness level will quickly improve.
- Start slowly. If you’ve never been to a gym, there is nothing more intimidating than walking into a room full of people who all seem to know what they are doing. Taking baby steps is the way forward towards working towards your fitness goals. Remember, everyone was a beginner at some point.
- Don’t expect too much too soon. It took time for the weight to go on and it will take time for it to come off. Set yourself small achievable fitness goals that you will be able to stick to and choose an exercise that you enjoy doing. Think about what it is that you want to achieve and how you are going to get there. If you are wanting to tone, tighten, build strength, and lose weight then resistance exercise is great for this. If you are wanting to build up stamina and strengthen your heart and lungs then try cardiovascular exercise such as running, power walking, swimming, or cycling. A combination of both is the perfect recipe. If you are wanting to exercise in the gym then start by committing to three 30-minute sessions a week at the gym (there is no need to spend hours in the gym and trying to fit in 5 gym sessions a week might not be achievable), or a 10 minute fast paced walk, increasing by a couple of minutes every time you walk. Make sure that you are slightly out of breath but still able to hold a conversation. Mix it up with a class such as Zumba or Yoga. Set targets or challenges such as a squat challenge where you do so many squats a day for a month or being able to do 5 press ups by the end of the month. Consistency is fundamental to reach your fitness goals. Exercise cannot be stored up, so make sure you factor in regular times throughout the week to exercise, and this will then become a habit which will become automatic and part of your lifestyle. Buy some nice fitness gear, write your gym sessions in your diary, and make it something to look forward to. This is your time just for you!
- As well as planning specific exercise times, start to incorporate more movement into your daily routine to help improve your health and fitness. This could be things like parking further away from the supermarket door, getting off the bus one or two stops earlier or taking the stairs instead of the lift. Put extra effort into vacuuming, cleaning, and gardening – this all adds up. Add in a few squats whilst brushing your teeth, a few ab crunches in the tv adverts and a jog whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. These are great ideas for starting to exercise as well as in addition to your exercise programme. Moving more will help to improve your fitness and any type of movement is better than none at all.
- Track your progress. It’s important to see what changes you are making so include measurements like inches and body fat percentage. The scales can be used as a guide, but they don’t give you a true picture as they weigh all of you without taking into account what that weight is made up of (muscle, bone, fat and organs). Your weight can easily fluctuate throughout the day or from day to day which can be demoralising.
- Don’t make excuses. It’s easy to think ‘I’m too tired’, ‘I don’t have the time’, ‘I’m too unfit’, ‘it’s too hard’ or many other similar excuses. If you’re struggling to find 30 minutes to exercise, then find 10 minutes. Work your upper body one day, lower body the next and include some cardio and abs. 10 minutes exercise done regularly can make big changes. Exercise will improve your energy levels, so pushing yourself to exercise when you’re tired will help you to feel more invigorated, motivated and alive! If you think you’re too unfit, that’s exactly why you should start to exercise, just make sure that you start slowly. You will be surprised at how quickly you will start to feel stronger and fitter. Exercise doesn’t have to be hard, and it certainly shouldn’t hurt. The 1980s saying ‘no pain, no gain’ where you exercise till it hurts is wrong and outdated. You might feel some muscle soreness after exercise but that is normal. Walking is a great start to getting fit and it’s easy to increase the intensity and length as you get fitter.
- Be accountable. Exercise with friends, book the time in your diary, take measurements and pictures of your success and choose a gym that offers personal programmes and motivation.
- Plan small rewards and treats as you achieve each goal. This might be something like a new book, a manicure or beauty treatment, some new fitness clothes or simply some time to yourself to do what you want.
Make sure that you warm up before exercising with a gentle jog, a few squats and arm circles, drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated and to get the best out of your workout and cool down at the end of your workout with some stretches to lessen any muscle soreness, prevent injury and to help improve your flexibility, as well as letting your heart rate return to its normal resting heart rate. Stop exercising if you feel any pain.
At W Fitness, we take the worry out of going to the gym. We provide a safe, friendly space where women can work towards their fitness goals at a level that is right for them, with their own personal programme. We are on hand to help and answer any questions and we do frequent reviews to check technique and increase the level when necessary, so there is really no excuse to not exercise 😊 Check us out here!
If you sit and think about the many benefits of exercise such as better health with decreased risk of illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes as well as more energy and stamina, better sleep, improved mood, increased flexibility and mobility and better concentration, it would be something you would do without thinking twice! You only get one body and one life so make sure that you are doing everything that you can to look after it so that it can look after you 😊
Caroline & Hannah xx
*See your doctor before starting any exercise programme.