Getting started on an exercise routine can often be difficult and disheartening. You may not know how to get started on your exercise journey. You may even feel that you are so unfit and unhealthy that you will never be able to engage in regular physical activity. Does this sound like you? With a few simple tips however, you can be well on your way to transforming your inactive lifestyle into one filled with regular and fun-filled physical activity.
First things first: Assess yourself
If you have not been active and have not engaged in physical activity for a while, it is important that you assess your present fitness level and health condition. You can assess your fitness by taking the Fitness Assessments which calculates your fitness index. The same test enables you to monitor your improvement in your fitness over time. However, if you have a medical condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma, not all forms of physical activity may be suitable for you. Check with your doctor on the type, intensity and duration of physical activity that you should work towards.
Then stop giving excuses!
We all know that physical activity is good for us. But often, we give ourselves excuses for not exercising. Below are some excuses for not getting active and the suggested solutions:
|I'm too tired.||Get active! Feel the difference – you will be refreshed and energised after your activity.|
For a start, do three 10-minute segments of physical activity a day.
|I'm too lazy.||Get a family member, friend or colleague to motivate you.|
Join an interest group or club where members count on you to show up.
|I'm too busy.||Try a 10-minute brisk walk to your lunch venue or to the MRT station.|
Exercise while you are watching TV.
|I might get injured.||Choose activities that are suitable for your age and fitness level.|
Start slowly. Do your warm-up and cool-down exercises too.
|I find it difficult to start.||Choose an activity that interests you.|
Invite your family, friends or colleagues to get active with you.
Join an interest group or club and make new friends.
|The weather is too hot.||Get active early in the morning or evening.|
Explore activities that can be done indoors, including using workout DVDs.
So, no more excuses! Instead, think about the ways in which physical activity will enrich your life!
You can start with simple moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming. These activities are generally safe for everyone and the risk of injury is low. The key to sustaining your interest in physical activity is to choose activities that you enjoy.
Engage in different forms of physical activity for 150 minutes every week to build up your aerobic fitness and strengthen muscles. It may seem a daunting task with your busy lifestyle but every little counts. You can include physical activity into your daily routine and even engage in some of your other favourite activities while you exercise. For example, you can jog with your dog or watch TV while cycling on a stationary exercise bike.
Be flexible with your timing. You don't have to do all your physical activity at one go. If you cannot set aside 30 minutes a day to exercise, break it into three sessions of at least 10 minutes each. You can gain aerobic benefits even by doing shorter but more frequent activities throughout the day. You can even incorporate the sessions into a mode of transport where you could cycle to work or stop a few bus-stops earlier and brisk walk home!
When you start to get active, always start slow. Your body needs time to adjust to the increased physical activity, especially if you have not been active. This will help to prevent injuries and the potential onset of muscle soreness. You can subsequently increase the intensity and duration of your activity as your fitness level improves.
Always warm up and cool down properly before and after a session of physical activity. Warm up by doing your activity at a slower speed or lower intensity. For example, before your jogging session, you could walk briskly to warm up. After your activity, cool down by performing gentle stretches. This helps to improve flexibility and prevent aches.
Keep It Going
In order to sustain your interest and make an active lifestyle your way of life, apply the following tips:
- Explore new activities with your family, friends or colleagues to keep the interest going
- Pick up new sports or activities to inject variety such as ballroom dancing, yoga and kickboxing
- Set realistic short-term goals to help you stay focused and motivated
- Do not feel miserable when something comes up that breaks your routine. Setbacks are temporary – just get going again as soon as you can
- Think of ways you can make physical activity a part of your daily routine. Reward yourself when you've achieved your goals
- You just have to exercise for 150 minutes every week and you will be on your way to having a more active and healthier lifestyle!