How to start an exercise program and stick to it
It can be daunting starting an exercise program when you are bombarded with information about the latest and greatest fitness ideas.
Where on earth do you start? Do you join a gym, get some weights at home, dust off the bike from the shed, or should you buy that miracle ab trainer you saw advertised on TV?
The good news is exercise doesn’t have to be that complicated or scary.
We’ve put together the following tips on how to start your exercise routine and most importantly how to achieve your health and fitness goals.
1. Determine your fitness goals
What is it that you want to accomplish? Exercising has so many benefits, but is there something that you specifically want to achieve?
Do you want to lose weight or bulk up? Or are you wanting to gain more energy by being fitter? Or is it that you want to start jogging, or play in a sporting team? Or is it that you are wanting to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or osteoporosis?
Whatever to reason it is important to determine what you want to achieve and why. Write down your goals and set a timeframe. For instance being able to run 5km within three months, or to lose eight kilograms by November. If starting out, make the first goal easily achievable. Ticking off the first goal early is great motivation for you to continue on. Too hard and you may drop out early.
It is important to review your goals regularly so keep them handy. It is also a great idea to share your goals with someone.
2. Try to make your workout fun
What do you like doing? Once you have worked out what you want to achieve, you need to determine how to go about it.
Choose an exercise activity that you enjoy. There is no point flogging yourself with something you do not enjoy doing. More than likely you will drop out before you have achieved the goals you have set.
If you hate running, don’t run. There are other ways to develop aerobic fitness. Try bike riding or swimming. It is a great idea to modify the things you like into a fitness activity. Go for a hike before having the picnic, join a walking club, join in with your kids when they play back yard cricket or footy.
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3. Work out a plan to achieve the goals
The best way to stay motivated is to set out what you want to achieve and what you plan to do to get there. Write it in a calendar. It doesn’t need to be too detailed, maybe just a list of activities you plan to do in the next week. Talk to someone about it. Let them know your plan and what you want to get out of it.
Sharing this will help to make you accountable and motivate you along the way.
4. Make working out a part of your daily life
If you can set a routine as part of your everyday activities you are much more likely to set them as a habit. Going to the gym on your way home from work, walk with colleagues in your lunch break, or setting your alarm half an hour earlier to do your Clinical Exercise exercises. Trying to make them a regular occurrence is best.
5. Exercise with a friend
It is always more fun doing something with a friend or family member. Motivating each other to achieve set goals and being accountable for actually turning up will help to motivate you both. Joining a sports team is far less daunting with a friend.
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6. Don’t do too much too soon
If you push yourself too hard at the start you are more likely to fail. When starting out it is normal to feel some aches and pains after exercising. This is because the body is not used to working the muscles that way. The body needs to take some time to adapt to working harder.
While this is only temporary it can be minimised by easing into a routine from the start. Slowly increase the intensity, gradually increases the weights. To start, have longer breaks between exercise sessions.
7. Reward yourself for achieving your health goals
Achieved the goals? That’s fantastic! You deserve a reward.
It doesn’t have to be big or expensive. It may be a treat, some chocolate for going to the gym five times in a week. It can be a reward for achieving your exercise and health goals. New gym gear and runners is a great reward and incentive to keep going.
8. Seek out advice and support
If you are just starting a regular exercise routine, getting some advice and direction first is important. If you have any health issues make sure your doctor is aware of your exercise plans.
It is also vital that you are safe and confident with all the gym or exercise equipment that you are using. A personal trainer in a gym will ensure you are safe and help motivate and guide you.
A physiotherapist will be able to screen for any underlying issues you may have that are potential for injuries. Biomechanical abnormalities can potentially lead to injuries when you put more demand in your body than it is used to.
Poorly-supported feet are a common cause of injuries when we increase the load placed on them, like when start to run. Having appropriate sneakers for your foot type or orthotics can help prevent these issues.
A physiotherapist will also be able to guide and direct you to ensure you are performing the most appropriate exercises for your body and your goals.
They will be able to prescribe exercises to rehabilitate from injury or to modify a program to allow you to continue exercising through injury.
Thinking about starting up an exercise routine after a break in activity? Contact your nearest Back In Motion practice to book your free initial assessment.
Tom Hindhaugh - Practice Director and Physiotherapist at Back In Motion Bayswater
Tom is the Practice Director and most senior physiotherapist at Back In Motion Bayswater. Tom graduated in 1994 and worked for three years in hospitals and private practices prior to starting work at Bayswater Physiotherapy Centre. In 2001 he took over the ownership of the practice.
Tom has undergone full training in Clinical Exercise and also specialises in sporting injuries, neck pain and headaches.