At the beginning of every new year people often make resolutions or goals they plan to achieve in the coming year. Often those goals include starting or resuming an exercise program that went by the wayside for a variety of reasons.
Exercising regularly is important for many reasons. It improves musculoskeletal health, joint health, energy levels, and body system regulation, such as blood pressure, heart rate, insulin levels, and more.
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are just starting out or getting back into the swing of things.
First, What Kind of Exercise is Best?
The CDC recommends a combination of:
- Moderate aerobic activity, at least 2 and half hours, spread out throughout the week. For example, brisk walking or swimming.
- Strength training for all major muscle groups at least 2-3 times per week.
- Vigorous aerobic activity, at least 1 hour 15 min, of faster paced activities. For example, running, elliptical, or fast swimming.
Add-in Daily Balance Exercises
In addition to the CDC recommendations above, I would add another important category of exercise to your weekly regimen — daily balance exercises. Balance exercises are very important because they will help you:
- Be mindful of where you are in space.
- Be solid on your feet.
- Prevent falls.
Balance exercises are important for EVERYONE, whether you are young, old, athletic, or only walk.
Tips for Warming-Up Before Strenuous Exercise
A gentle warm-up before any strenuous exercise will help protect your body from injury. The warm-up allows for increased blood flow to the body’s tissues and allows for greater flexibility.
Here are some examples for a gentle warm-up:
- Lunge matrix (lunges into different directions/angles).
- Easy biking or swimming.
- Dynamic stretching.
Tips on How to Manage an Exercise Class
There is a plethora of gentle exercise classes you can try, such as yoga or tai chi. There are also more intense classes such as CrossFit, Tabata, or BodyPump. While all of these classes provide wonderful camaraderie and instruction, they are very generalized. Not every exercise, pace, or intensity in a class is appropriate for everyone. As such, people have a natural tendency to want to keep up with their neighbors as well as keep their pride by pushing themselves to do something they may not be ready to do or perform correctly.
How you can be mindful in an exercise class:
- Know yourself and your body’s capabilities and limitations.
- Keep your pride and ego in check by staying within your limits.
- Realize when you may not be able to perform an exercise correctly.
Ultimately, mindfulness will ensure that you benefit from the workout instead of risking injury.
Tips on Resuming an Exercise Routine
- If you are returning to an exercise class, don’t pick up where you left off. Maybe you were able to use 5 lb weights in your exercise class 5 months ago, but now you haven’t lifted anything heavier than a pen in the last month. Start with a lighter weight such as 3 lb or less and you might need to do less reps then you were doing previously.
- If you’ve lost your running mojo and aren’t running your usual mileage or running less days per week, start by adding in another running day per week every 2 weeks until you are running your usual days per week. Then, you can increase mileage slowly per a training plan.
- Start slow and do less initially and work up to your ultimate goal
- Drink water when exercising and afterwards to replenish fluids lost
- Include electrolyte drinks if exercising longer than an hour
- Have an exercise buddy to keep you accountable to your goals
- Have fun!
- Include a variety of exercise
- Wear wick away clothing and the appropriate shoes for the activity