After some well-deserved time off, and over indulgence this Christmas, it’s time to look forward to that age old cliché a new year and a new you!
It’s that time of the year again, where we make our New Year’s resolutions and usually as a result of the recent indulgences in food and alcohol, getting fit invariably becomes one of them. As I am writing this article, we can see a few runners pounding the pavements past the clinic. The weather isn’t great but there are a few jogging past, however, as the month goes on, we will probably see fewer and fewer joggers during the day. Keeping fit and healthy is a great New Year’s resolution but it does require effort and motivation to be effective.
As we all know exercise is extremely good for your health and well-being. Not only does it improve your muscle tone, and general fitness, it also increases your energy levels and helps stabilise your sleep pattern. Research shows that physical activity can boost self-esteem and mood, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It has been proven that people who do regular activity have a lower chance of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Prevention is better than cure.
Many people become disheartened by it after the first week of two of exercising when they do not see the pounds fall off immediately. This is normal but if you have realistic expectations of what you can achieve, how you can achieve it and the typical time frame it will take then you are much more likely to persevere with your resolution. In our busy lives, one of our greatest excuses for not exercising regularly, and getting fit, is that we don’t have time! There are a few things that you can do to get yourself in the best position to start and actually persevere with a fitness programme that will last longer than the middle of January.
In 2016, make time to take care of you! To help you get started, here is a list of our top tips:
1. Make exercise enjoyable – Finding an activity that you enjoy doing, increases the likelihood that you will stick at it. You don’t need to spend hours on a treadmill in a gym to get fit, if that’s not your thing. Take your dog for a long walk. Any activity that gets your heart rate up is good. As a suggestion, having a friend to exercise with, is good for keeping you on track. Make a regular plan to exercise together, and you’ll be less likely to fob it off due to being tired, etc. than if you were exercising alone. Choose an activity which you think you may enjoy – it can be with a group of like-minded and supportive friends / family. If you enjoy your exercise, you will more likely continue with it and it will be something you look forward to – this is half the battle won! Trying something different or varying your activities during the week can also help you to enjoy exercise rather than endure it!
2. Don’t overdo it, be realistic – It may be tempting, while you have the fitness buzz, to go from 0 to 60 straight away. Resist this urge and ease yourself in gently to begin with. Doing too much too soon, can lead to injuries or burnout, resulting with you discontinuing with exercise altogether. Exercising sensibly can help you to tone up your muscles and lose weight – but it will not happen overnight. The chances of you gaining those extra pounds or becoming more unfit did not happen overnight so likewise, losing those pounds and/or getting fitter will also take some time. If you prepare yourself mentally for the changes to occur over a period of time (months possibly) then you will not feel disappointed and be more likely to want to continue to reach your end goal.
3. Try something new & Set a Goal – If you’re already exercising regularly, set yourself a challenge to try something new. This is a good way to ensure you don’t get bored, and often you’ll find that embarking on a new activity uses different parts of your body that you aren’t used to, increasing your overall mobility. Setting realistic, attainable goals is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It can be a short term goal, such as swimming two lengths of the pool without stopping, or a long term goal such as training for a marathon.
4. Eating & Drinking Well – Studies have shown around 80% of any fitness goal depends on your diet. This applies whether you are trying to lose weight, or train for an event. Food is fuel for your body and it is important that you put the right things in it, to maximise results. Also keep hydrated! Aim for at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For everyone, a healthy and well-balanced diet should be part of our lifestyle rather than something special. Having a variety of wholegrains and fibre, 5 different fruits and vegetables a day, lean meats, low fat dairy and less sugar is a good start. Instead of thinking that some foods are banned because they are bad, which sometimes increases the craving for these foods even more, think about reducing the amount of these foods that we do eat.
5. Warm Up, Cool down & Stretch – You are also less likely to get an injury if you do a 10 minute warm up and stretch before and after exercising. This is an important part of any exercise regime. It may only be for about 10 minutes or so but is essential in preparing your body mentally and physically for your exercise session. Don’t forget about Sleep, when you relax, the body is able to repair itself post exercise. Sleeping, also relaxes your mind, and enables you to be more focused when awake. If you want some advice on suitable exercises book an appointment or e-mail us.
Preventative physiotherapy – Regular visits to an expert physiotherapist will enable you to achieve the most out of your life and avoid unnecessary aches and pains. Start off from a pain-free/injury-free status. This is often overlooked in our quest to become fit. Ensure that any aches and pains that you do have are not exacerbated by any new exercise regime you start. Sometimes, the aches and pains may be a result of being inactive and therefore starting some gentle exercise programme will help relieve those aches and pains. Note the word gentle. A common mistake people make is to start a vigorous and intense exercise programme from Day 1 having not even walked to the local shops in the last few years. It wouldn’t be a real surprise therefore when aches and pains increase and even potential injury to muscles and joints will likely occur as a result of this. So if you do have some pre-existing injury or health condition and want to start a fitness programme, begin slow and gentle and always seek professional advice from a chartered physiotherapist to ensure that you are undertaking suitable exercise in a sensible manner. The last thing you want is to aggravate any existing injuries or acquire new ones due to inappropriate exercising.
So try some of these tips and see how they can help you to keep those New Year’s Resolutions.
Don’t forget to seek professional advice from you’re a chartered physiotherapist if you have any questions on how to maximise the health benefits of your exercise routine.