Are you new to exercise or thinking about taking up a new fitness plan?
Starting an exercise regime can be incredibly daunting especially if you’re not entirely sure where to begin. Here are 10 tips to help you.
1) Start with Small Steps
If you’re someone who isn’t used to exercising it’s important to start small and gradually increase your activity level. If you go “too hard, too soon” you’ll end up aching, exhausted and not want to stick with your new plan. Try adding more incidental exercise into your day e.g. using the stairs instead of the lift, walking to/from the train station instead of getting the bus. You’ll be surprised how many steps this will add to your day.
2) Find Something You Enjoy
If exercise feels like a chore there is a chance you’ll resent doing it, however, if you enjoy it you’ll gain more satisfaction from it and be more likely to stick to it. Join a dance class, attend a Zumba session for some booty-shaking calorie burning, play tennis or even meet a friend to go for a walk.
3) Set your Goals
It’s easier to start a journey if you first work out where you want to go. Think about why you want to exercise. Do you want to improve your health? Do you want to lose weight for a special event? Do you want to recover from an injury? Do you want to run a 5km? Set a mixture of short term and long term goals, write them down and figure out the best way for you to get there. It’s important that these goals are realistic and that you revise them periodically to make sure you’re still on track or you may even adapt them as you realise your goals have changed.
4) Track Your Progress
There is nothing more motivating than seeing your hard work leading to results so it’s a good idea to initially set a baseline and then routinely re-measure. If your goal is to lose weight, scales are the obvious way of measuring your progress, however, try and take body measurements as well (chest, waist, hips, thighs) as these are a better indicator of fat loss. You could even take photos (every two weeks, for example) and compare the changes in your body. If your goal is to improve your running keep a record of how far you can run in 20mins or how quickly you can do 1km.
5) Good Habits Start at Home
If the idea of getting a gym membership terrifies you then why not start off in your garage? There are plenty of exercises such as squats, lunges, and boxing that need minimal space and no equipment and in this technology-saturated world there are YouTube videos for everything so why not follow a workout video from the comfort and privacy of your own living room using your laptop/iPad/phone.
It’s much easier to persist with something if you’re worried about letting somebody else down. If you arrange to meet a friend in the morning for a walk it won’t be so tempting to turn off the alarm and go back to bed. Alternatively, talk to your partner, friend or work colleague about your goals and have them check in on you to see how you’re progressing (and tell you off for taking another chocolate from the box!) Answering to someone else will increase your compliance.
7) Tools of the trade
There are lots of lovely gadgets to help you on your fitness journey. Useful apps include: * CouchTo5K – running coach for complete beginners * myfitnesspal – helps you track your food intake and energy expenditure during the day It’s also worthwhile investing in a Fit Bit or a basic pedometer to track how many steps you take (aim for at least 10,000 per day)
8) Reward yourself
Hard work and making progress deserve rewards so set yourself goals and celebrate your success appropriately. Maybe going for a walk 3 mornings a week deserves going to see a movie or reaching your goal weight for the month requires a new dress. These rewards should not be food related as that can undo the hard work and progress very quickly.
9) Mental Health
It is just important to look after your brain as it is your body. Stress is one of the biggest barriers to losing weight, if your mind isn’t in the right place then there is no amount of exercise that will get you to where you want to be. Try yoga, walking while listening to your favourite music or an interesting podcast, reading a book or even having a bath, all ways to refocus your mind.
Fitness should be a lifestyle change, not a short term “fix” therefore it’s important that the changes you make are able to be sustained long term. If you’re a beginner, don’t set yourself the unrealistic task of going to the gym every day of the week while eating nothing but chicken and broccoli. You may see good results initially however you won’t be able to continue long term. Plan a schedule that fits in well with your life and doesn’t feel like a struggle. Best of luck!