If the above question is of interest to you, you are already making a conscious decision to start planning how you can become more active!
You are probably already aware of the positives of being more active, but it is always good to retouch on some the specific benefits of exercise and how much we should be doing on a weekly basis.
What are the Official Guidelines
The current official guidelines (The UK Chief Medical Officers Physical Activity Guidelines 2019) state that we should complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week, or a combination of both ideally over a 3-5 day period.
However, if you are beginning an exercise programme, then a low to moderate intensity gradual programme will be the most effective in terms of adherence and staying motivated.
Some exercise is, of course, better than nothing when starting out, and let's face it, that's where we all start. As your fitness and motivation improve you will naturally increase the intensity and duration, so don't feel that you NEED to be a fitness junky from day 1.
You do not. Take it at your pace.
To benchmark yourself against these guidelines, being physically active at a moderate intensity would mean that you will have an increased breathing rate but you should still be able to talk easily. If you're huffing and puffing to begin with, slow down and aim for slow and steady focusing on technique and consistency.
We should also be following a strengthing programme for all the major muscle groups in our body for at least 2 days a week. (Chest, Back, Shoulders, Core, Arms).
This could be made up of a mixture of bodyweight training, resistance machines / free-weight workouts and body conditioning classes (Pilates & Yoga) to allow you to work these areas effectively and give you an all-body workout.
Regular exercise has great Benefits
Commencing or restarting an exercise programme has numerous benefits that will completely change your life such as:
· Improving your overall health, in mind and body
· Maintaining a healthy weight or supporting a weight loss goal
· Improving your sleeping pattern (sleep is vital to overall health)
· Increasing your self-esteem which can lead to reduced stress and anxiety
Plus many many more...
It is never too late to start! And never too late to reap the benefits of regular exercise.
Where do I start?
Now that we know and have recapped the benefits and what is the ideal amount of intensity and time we need to be doing each week. I have put together my suggestions and guidance to help you make the steps to a fitter you and start on your new exercising journey….
First, do you have existing medical conditions?
If so, then please first go see your GP. This is vitally important if you are aware of any health conditions that you have which may need to be monitored closely when following an exercise programme.
Exercising with pre-existing conditions must always be undertaken with consideration and solid advice/guidance from healthcare and fitness professionals.
Make a plan!
Complete a weekly diary and see where you could fit in time to exercise.
Remember you can split the duration throughout a given day and/or over the week.
If time is an issue, think about how you can seize opportunities to be more active in your daily life, for example walking to the shops, walk instead of driving, using the stairs rather than the lift or escalators. It's surprising how quickly you can stack up the steps and increase the heart rate simply by taking the stairs!
Prioritisation is key and regular exercise at first can indeed feel like a chore, but I implore you to make time for you and treat it like having breakfast or brushing your teeth, a thing you do that is good for you and will set you up for the day or make you sleep well at night, try and immerse it into your life as a thing... you just do, not a big event!
Setting yourself realistic goals
As much as a plan is great, be careful not to set yourself an unrealistic target/plan.
Every minute counts and some exercise is better than no exercise.
Try and minimise sedentary time by breaking up periods of inactivity with physical activity, this could be going for a brisk walk, gardening, walking up and down the stairs, housework etc.
It is important to be physically active every day where possible.
Find a support group
Speak to your family and friends about your plan to start to be more active whether you are starting or restarting an exercise programme. If you have a supportive network this will increase your chances of starting and adhering to being more physically active. You never know you may inspire others!
Running Groups, Community Classes or Personal Trainers are all options to help you stay committed.
A gradual, moderate-intensity workout should consist of a warm-up and finish with cool-down stretches.
A warm-up allows your mind and body to prepare for the main workout, which in return will decrease the risk of injury.
A cool-down flexibility programme will help maintain flexibility and reduce muscle tightness after a workout.
Regardless of the exercise, always wrap these two activities around it.
Keep yourself hydrated before, during and after a workout to avoid dehydration and fatigue, be sure to eat a well-balanced diet.
Wear comfortable, layered clothing and a high-quality pair of cross trainers are a must to ensure adequate support when performing impact movement and weight training.
Specific running trainers are ideal for walking, jogging etc.
Variety is the key
Try different ways to exercise to see which ones are right for you.
Some examples would be long walks, jogging, circuit training, small equipment training, cardio machine training, Pilates, Yoga, bodyweight workouts, and many more.
Variety is key to helping you remain motivated and to challenge your body in different ways and allow cross-training for an over-all balanced fitness programme.
Keep a diary
A great motivational tool!
Keep a diary of your weight, body measurements, take selfies, add daily comments on how you feel etc, do this on a weekly basis and then compare week 1 and week 4-6 (but not before!) to see the achievements you have made so far.
You'll be amazed at how much you've achieved.
Let's have a quick recap
Seek health advice, make it happen, plan and start your diary.
Be realistic with what you can achieve each week and do not set yourself up to fail!
Add variety to your weekly exercise programme. Sort your training attire and keep well!
Good luck and if you need any more support, whether it be motivation, technique or methods to achieve your goals then please do check out my website www.jodierixfitness.co.uk and check out my current services and packages that may be available to help you achieve your next step into your fitness journey.
Go forth and take steps to a fitter you!