“Exercise is medicine, take if everyday!”
This is something I’m always telling my patients in the clinic. It’s vital that we start thinking of exercise as something that we have to do everyday, rather than something that’s purely fun and/or weather dependent and/or only for people who want to compete in sports or athletics. Have you ever set out on a new exercise frenzy, wanting to become super-fit, only to have your regime fall apart after a few short days or weeks? Its ok, you’re only human and none of us are robots! Implementing these tips the next time you start a new exercise regime will help you stick with it longer and enjoy it more as well.
1. Plan your Weekly Regime
People who plan to do something are more likely to do it. Planning doesn’t just involve thinking about something, you also need to write it down somewhere you’re going to see it – be that in your phone calendar, in your diary or on a piece of paper stuck to your fridge! What you write down shouldn’t be that long or detailed, just a brief synopsis of what you’ll be doing to exercise. You also need to write down when you’re going to do the exercise. Example: ‘Monday: Walk the park before work’, ‘Tuesday: Run to the shop and back after dropping the kids to school’, or ‘Wednesday: Cycle to Jane’s house and back after dinner’. When you plan like this, the subconscious part of the brain processes your plan in advance, so you’re more mentally prepared when you go to do your exercise.
2. Variety is the Spice of Life!
Particularly when it comes to exercising (and also healthy eating), variety is crucial in maintaining your regime long-term. Repeating the same exercise session over and over is boring, and it doesn’t have to be! Switching between different types of exercise not only makes your sessions more interesting, it also challenges different areas of the body, and you’re less likely to get injured. For these reasons, even the most focused of athletes need to vary their exercise sessions.
3. Entertainment During your Exercise
If you’re entertained during your exercise session, you’ll exercise for longer and enjoy it more, I guarantee it. Entertainment can take many forms, it’s a case of choosing whatever works for you. Exercising with a friend, spouse or offspring is one example; the conversation and company helps pass the time. You can also exercise either while listening to podcasts, music playlists or watching your favourite TV show(s). I personally like to exercise while watching/listening to rugby matches! This is one of the reasons why exercising outdoors is better than exercising indoors on a machine, because there’s entertainment everywhere you look outdoors!
4. Start Slow, Small Increments
- How hard is too hard?
When (re)starting a new regime, of course you want to push yourself as hard as you can, primarily to see results as quickly as possible. STOP, don’t do it, this is a mistake! In order to gain the medical benefits of regular exercise, you need to be pushing yourself only so hard that you’re moderately out of breath i.e. so you have to breath through your mouth. It’s at that point that you’re challenging your cardiovascular system sufficiently for your fitness to improve.
- How long is too long?
It’s also important not to push yourself too far into discomfort – remember that exercising for 5 minutes per day is better than no exercise at all. I recommend that you keep going until you’re really not enjoying the session anymore, and then try and hang on for another 2-3 minutes. Exercising for 5-10 minutes every day is better for your health than exercising for 40 minutes one day each week, because you’re challenging your cardiovascular system every day. You’re also more likely to keep it up long term!
5. Appropriate Clothing & Gear
If you’re like me and live in Ireland, then you’re used to wet weather. Often when you go to exercise outdoors, it’ll either be raining already or there’s a good chance it could start at any moment. Wearing comfortable, waterproof clothing can make exercising in the rain actually enjoyable, as opposed to sheer misery. Getting yourself a good pair of appropriate footwear is also highly advised. Getting welts or blisters will end your new exercise regime pretty quickly, so I advise investing in a good pair of Asics running shoes. You can find some good deals online for these types of things if you shop around!
That’s all for today, but if you live in the Dublin 18 area, why not get your exercise needs taken care of at Flynn Medical Exercise? I’ve got a variety of exercise classes and groups running 5 days each week. You’ll be tutored by a professional and meet like-minded people at the same time! Get in contact with me for more information! And remember…
“Exercise is medicine, take if everyday!”