I was delighted to be asked by AIG Ireland to be their exercise ambassador and to write a number of blog posts on the topic. While most of our blog posts focus on rehab or prevention of specific injuries, I wanted to get back to basics for this post and provide some helpful tips to getting started with an exercise regime.
To say beginning exercise can be a daunting experience is an understatement for most people often starting is the hardest part. Nowadays most people dread the thought of stepping foot in a gym for fear of what others might think of them.” I’m so out of shape”, “I have no idea how to exercise “, “what if people laugh at me ?” … Any of these thoughts sound familiar? Here I’ve created a few simple steps on getting started for to make that experience an enjoyable one, not a terrifying one.
- Go for a check-up with your GP.
Exercising safely is all about knowing your body before you begin. Being aware of any limitations that you may have is critical to avoid any unwanted injuries. This is particularly relevant to anyone who may have had heart problems, anyone with an unhealthy BMI, anyone who may have balance or mobility issues or a previous history of fainting episodes. Your GP will be able to advise you on exercise frequency, intensity type and the amount of time spent based on your medical history and with a physical exam.
- Set realistic short term and long term goals
In my opinion this is key to maintaining your activity levels. It adds purpose to a work out and motivates you to push yourself further. Make sure your goals are SMART. They should be specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and timed. Short term goals should be for 4-6 weeks, long term should be for 1-2 months away or longer.
- Try lots of different types of exercise to see what suits you best
Think of a type of exercise you enjoyed when you were younger and start there. Maybe it’s a dance class, returning to an old sport, personal training or just a light walk/run. Try everything to see what suits you best once you find something which suits you you’re more likely to stick to it long term.
- Get support
It’s great to have a friend or family member who will help you to begin exercise. Swapping movie nights to walks/jogs in the park together can often help not only the body but also the mind. Maybe start a personal training or Pilate’s class together, friends can often push you when you need it most.
- Maintain a balanced lifestyle
In order to stay injury free and get the most from your training it’s important to ensure you are preparing your body in the correct way. Getting into good eating habits, sleeping habits and drinking 3L of water a day can help you reach your goals while staying injury free.