By Dr. Jeanette De Witt
Welcome to the New Year!
Many people strive to improve their fitness yet are afraid of getting sore, hurting themselves, or not knowing what to do.
Here are a few tips to get you started without your body revolting against you:
1. Select an exercise or physical activity you actually enjoy!
When you select an activity you like, you will be more likely to stick with it and have fun. Yes, exercise can be FUN if you choose something you enjoy doing
2. Start slow and GRADUALLY progress
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to go all in and do too much too fast. If you haven’t exercised in a while, you shouldn’t jump into a 90-minute workout. Instead, start with 10-20 minutes every other day so your body can adjust. It is better to do too little and realize you could have done more than to do too much and need days to recover because you are too sore too want to move.
3. Change one variable at a time
Follow the FITTE principle:
Frequency – how often you exercise
Intensity – how intense you exercise (speed, resistance, level of difficulty)
Time – how long you exercise
Type – the exercise itself (swim, bike, run, yoga, kickboxing, etc.)
Enjoyment – the exercise you love or are at least interested in doing
Once you select the type of exercise you enjoy, then select a frequency, a duration, and an intensity that you can win at. For example, you might choose to walk 20 minutes at conversation pace with a co-worker at your lunch break 3 days per week. After you have success with this, then you might decide to change one variable and increase your walk to 30 minutes. Changing one variable at a time decreases the risk of injury and lets you know why you might be sore if you experience soreness or fatigue. When you change two variables then you won’t know which variable made you sore or tired.
4. Be consistent
It takes time to develop new routines and habits. You didn’t learn spelling and math in 1 week so you shouldn’t expect to increase your fitness in 1 week either. Your body has to learn how to move, how to get stronger, and how to increase stamina – give your body and your mind a chance to win by not overwhelming it with too much too soon. Take one day at a time and commit to small goals first. Once you succeed with a small goal, then create another small goal. For example, maybe your first small goal is just to get out of bed 15 minutes earlier to walk the dog for 15 minutes. Stick with that goal every day and soon you will be walking 20 minutes or even 30 minutes. The key is to be consistent and get out of bed!
Wish you the best success and a Happy New Year!