I’ve seen it regularly on Twitter and Facebook, where people are announcing a time for change and to get fit again. I’ve also seen several posts about how it’s not necessarily a good time to make a New Years resolution. In reality does it matter whether it is a good time or not? This is the time of year where people are looking forward and want to make changes after the binge eating of the Christmas season.
So with this in mind, I thought that I would post 10 simple pointers, which may help keep you injury free and motivated, if you are someone who is starting exercise after a long break:
1. Take it steady
– Start slow and gradually increase your exercise volume. I regularly see people who have “caught the bug” and don’t want to stop or done way too much too soon. We would would love to see a nice linear progression, but the reality is often much more complex.
2. What are you trying to achieve?
– For some people goal setting can be really helpful, but keep it realistic and start with bite sized pieces. You can always adjust them if they are too easy.
3. Listen to your body
– I say this quite often, but it’s your biggest clue to something going wrong. Yes the exercise will be/should be tough, but you should also be recovering in-between sessions, if not you may need to reduce the intensity or take a longer rest.
4. Make a plan, but a flexible plan
– Once you’ve made your goals, make you’re plan. When is your time for exercise going to be? With our busy lives, it can be hard to fit stuff in, so make time for yourself. Having said that I quite often see injuries where people have been unwilling to deviate from their plans, where a rest week/low mileage week might have been all they needed.
5. Exercise with a friend
– This can be a fantastic motivator, if you’ve made that commitment to exercise, you’re less likely to skip a session.
7. Measure your progress
– Again this can really help to motivate (can also go the other way if things aren’t going to plan), but think about what you are monitoring. If it’s just weight loss, there are quite often other improvements in fitness before you will see much change in your weight. So do you see a reduction in your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) for a particular exercise, can you do more reps/walk/run/cycle further in a given time?
6. Use an app/technology
– I quite often suggest apps such as the “Couch to 5K” running app as a way of gradually increasing running volume. Other apps such as Strava, Endomondo or MapMyRun can also be useful to help monitor progress or log activity.
8. Diet and exercise go hand in hand
– After the excess of Christmas, this is important to recognise, but I’m not suggesting you need to jump on the newest fad diet out there. Look at what you eat and be honest with yourself, make small changes first and then build on these improvements.
9. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
– Enjoy it! Find an exercise that you love to do and getting fit becomes so much more enjoyable. It should still be hard work though!
10. Keep it simple
– All of the above is so much easier if you keep it simple, find your way to exercising and fitness. I am a firm believer that there is a form of exercise out there for everyone, you just have to find yours.
On a final note: If you already have a niggle or injury which you feel is holding you back or even preventing you from exercising, get it checked out. At Ed Pratt Sports Therapy we can work with you to help prevent injuries, as well as treating current problems, with the aim of getting you back doing the exercise/sport you love.
Let me know what you think of the above tips and if you have any to add, which you think others will find useful add them to the comments box below.