The New Year is upon us, as is the time for New Year’s resolutions. If your resolutions include getting back into exercise whether that’s to improve your health, get stronger and fitter or maybe to achieve a goal such as completing a 5k run or loosing weight, then it’s important to approach your new resolution with care and a plan. Too often people jump into a fitness programme and within a couple of weeks have given up or caused themselves an injury!
To help prevent this, start by setting a realistic goal. You aren’t going to go from couch to 5k in a couple of weeks if you haven’t run before and if you have taken an extended break from the gym you won’t be able to lift your old weights without building back up. Focus initially on your form and with time you will be stretching further, running longer and lifting heavier. If it’s been a while since you have used your gym kit, check that it’s fit for purpose as running shoes for example, should ideally be changed out every 6 months.
Consider consulting a personal trainer, fitness instructor or your local gym to talk through your goals and how to safely get there. It may also be beneficial to visit an osteopath for a check over before getting started, to prevent injury and identify any areas that need specific care or attention.
Pick an activity you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy the idea of a yoga class then create a little a stretching routine to do at the end of your workout. At the same time if the gym isn’t an environment you enjoy pick an aerobics or dance class. Exercise doesn’t have be intensive, movement in the form of Tai Chi or Pilates or even walking are all beneficial and will help get the joints moving and improve health and well being.
If you struggle with weight bearing due to arthritis for example, water based activities such as swimming or aqua aerobics can be an enjoyable alternative, as they promote movement whilst reducing pressure on the joints. Make it work for you! Doing activity with a friend can help not just with keeping you company but also with motivation. The same can apply to joining a class rather than solo work outs.
Be prepared to be sore and uncomfortable for a few days after your session. This is perfectly normal and the first time back usually feels the worse! Help reduce this by warming up and cooling down, try some gentle post-exercise stretching and drink plenty of water. Using magnesium as a lotion or spray or relaxing in a warm bath with magnesium flakes can all be beneficial for easing the soreness. Ensure you have rest days and slowly build up how many sessions you do in a week, as this will aid recovery and will reduce the probability of injury.
Get active and good luck!