It’s New Year’s Day and you’ve made a resolution to do some exercise and get fit.
The sad thing is, every year so many of us do this and so many of us stop doing it by the end of the month or at least by the end of March.
I don’t have a ‘magic’ answer to how you can avoid it, but I can give a few tips on the type of exercise you need and what it takes to keep going.
The first thing is to realise that you don’t have to have sweat running down a bright red face, with your eyes almost popping, to be getting some benefit out of exercise. Such intensity is only for a small proportion of people, and you’re probably not one. You do need to get out of your comfort zone, and challenge it, but you don’t need to go crazy with it.
The main thing is you get an exercise program that works out the whole body. A cardio workout improves the heart, lungs and blood vessels. Weight-bearing exercises help the function and health of bones, muscles, joints and tissues.
The other important thing is to do something you like doing. You will not stick at it if you don’t like it. Just because Jane next door goes to the gym four times a week, it doesn’t mean you have to.
There are so many options available now to get the exercise you need. It could be that you love the gym – where you can get the perfect combination of cardio and weights – but, if not, try other things until you find something you enjoy. My next door neighbour who is 55 goes walking three times a week, plays golf once a week and does Pilates or yoga alternative weeks. She says she tried the gym and hated it. On the other hand, my other neighbour Jane (yes, she’s real) really does go to the gym four times a week but doesn’t even walk the dog!
Within a radius of 5 kilometres of where we live, there are several gyms (large and small), options such as spin classes, yoga and Pilates, dance classes, a beach, swimming pool, tennis courts, several golf courses, martial arts, kayaking, surfing – not to mention women’s hockey, soccer, indoor soccer, indoor cricket, netball and basketball teams. Many of these double as both a cardio and weight bearing exercise, so they’re very efficient. Plus the great outdoors just to run or walk or garden – or even inside the house, such as running up and down the stairs 50 times a day.
If you say you can’t find a type of exercise that you find interesting, you just haven’t found it yet because, believe me, it’s out there.
I’m a personal trainer so I am going to say we’re worth the money! But the truth is, it’s up to you. Some people who I train don’t need me anymore in terms of what they’re doing – they just want to have someone with them who can keep them honest and push them along if they need it. Generally, a personal trainer is worthwhile if you’re starting out, don’t know what you’re doing, need the motivation or encourage: we’re sort of like a best friend who only wants what’s best for you, will push you if you need it, but also recognise that not every day is a gold medal winning day.
At the very least, make sure your family is fully behind what you’re doing. If you’re used to lying in on Sunday’s till 7.30am with your partner, but this is a time for you to exercise, make sure they understand why the exercise is important to you and you don’t love them any less! If your Pilates class is at 5.30pm on the way home from work, let the family know dinner will be a bit later that night: they won’t starve.
As the important thing is to keep your exercise routine going, make sure it’s achievable within your day. It’s better to devote 30 minutes four days a week and still be doing it on 31st December, then one hour seven days a week and have given up by March.
While medical guidelines will tell you that the recommended exercise is 30 minutes a day ever day, the fact is if you’re coming from a base of nothing, two days a week is a start, three days a week is good, four days a week is fantastic and five days a week is terrific!
So in a nutshell:
- You don’t have to bust a gut.
- Do something or a combination of things that work out your entire body – cardio and weights.
- Find something you like doing.
- Consider a personal trainer if you need motivation or someone to help you.
- Make sure your family is part of your ‘team’.
- Devote an achievable amount of time. Don’t get over-ambitious.