After long periods of low activity levels, the thought of heading to the gym or going out for a run can be one that we are not mentally ready for, not to mention our bodies probably won’t thank us for it the next day.
Like starting anything new, or something we haven’t done for a while, it is important that we begin at a level suitable to our current ability. This shouldn’t be any different when it comes to exercise.
This does not mean that we can’t go to the gym or out for a run, just remember exercise is something our body isn’t going to be used to, so we are allowed to start slowly. Alternatively, there are other options that can help us ease into the exercising.
Preparing our body:
- Set your goals – the first step to exercise is to be mentally ready for exercise. If we aren’t mentally ready the chances are, we aren’t going to keep it up. Take some time to think about exactly why it is you want to start exercising again. The more we think about these reasons the more they become real. Thinking about what might happen in the future if you don’t start exercising might not be a lovely thought, what it will do is outline the importance of why you should begin. What is happening to my physical health if I keep gaining weight? What is happening to my mental health if I’m not happy with how I look and feel? These can be scary questions to ask ourselves but for the sake of our quality of life, we must. Using the SMART goals template take some time to evaluate what it is you would like to achieve and why.
- Walking – A great way to begin exercising is by increasing the number of steps we walk per day. It may require us to get up a little earlier before work, or to use 20 minutes of our lunch break but we must start somewhere. Walking puts very little pressure on the joints, it allows for a change of surroundings, which is great for our mental health especially if we work at home or in the same room all day, and it adds to our daily calorie burn.
- Daily mobility workout – A mobility workout can be as little as 10 minutes when we get up in the morning. Mobility workout will help improve the range of motion in our joints by allowing them to become more lubricated. Movement allows the release of synovial fluid which lubricates the joint and reduces friction when the joint moves, just like oiling a creaking door. The muscles become more flexible, which will help prevent injury during more intense workouts. Improving our mobility can also help improve our posture, which is helpful if we find ourselves sitting down a lot during the day.
- Home workout for beginners – A good beginner’s workout should be low impact to protect the joints, it is important to strengthen the joints before moving onto impact exercises. Focussing on keeping the intensity at a low level is also essential to start building the strength of the cardiovascular system as we don’t want to push the heart rate to its maximum during our introduction back to exercise. Imagine a scale of 1-10, with 1 being no exercise at all and 10 being exercising to your maximum effort, now you want to keep yourself below a level 7 on that scale.
To make sure that we have time to exercise requires some planning. Your challenge is to look at your diary for the week and locate a space that you can make available for exercise. It can be anywhere between 10-30 minutes each day for the next 7 days. Even if it is the alarm clock being set 10 minutes early to allow some mobility and stretch exercises, that would be a great start.
Before you begin the week, take some time to think about and note down how you usually feel on a day to day basis taking into consideration, how well you sleep, how energetic you feel and your stress levels.
As you move into your first week of exercise, each day make a note of the following:
- What exercise did you undertake and how long did it last?
- How did it make you feel at the time?
- How did you feel at the end of the week?
- Did you feel any differently to normal and in what way?
- Did you manage to stick to your plan and exercise during the time you put aside?
- Finally, when the week is over, look back over what you have noticed and note down any positive changes you find, and most importantly, make sure you plan again for next week.