Beginning a routine programme of exercise at any time is a great idea. Many people will have a tendency to get active either in the run up to, or following a big event or specific time of the year. The pre-holiday, I need to fit into a bikini, or post-Christmas I need to lose all that extra partying weight have become a given in the yearly cycle of try and generally fail exercise regimes.
The most common reason for people wanting to get going is linked into weight loss and aesthetics. Whilst this is a good enough reason to get motivated and get moving, if we can also focus on many of the other health benefits a sustained, regular exercise programme in our lives is going to give us then we have a greater chance of success. Stress relief, better sleeping patterns, decreased long term health risks, improvement in self-confidence and increased energy levels are just some of the many benefits that regular exercise can bring. Focusing on these things and using them as markers alongside what it says on the scales will help in motivating you to continue exercise once you have started.
The most important thing when starting and succeeding in making exercise part of our lives is motivation. As a fitness coach one of the key roles alongside educating the client is also making sure motivation is both provided during training sessions and also to encourage self-motivation during the rest of the week. There are two key principles or areas of focus that I believe can help you succeed in keeping on track.
· Set realistic short, medium and long term goals that fit in with your current and foreseeable lifestyle and the time available to you as an individual to commit to change
· Create a habit. Make sure you stick with a pre-determined plan for at least the first 4-6 weeks so you are able to feel and see the benefits of what you are doing.
If you can follow these two things you will be more likely to keep motivated and make exercise a part of your life for the long term.
Two great ways to get moving are either running or cycling. Both forms of exercise are great for improving cardiovascular fitness and also muscular strength. They can be performed straight from your door, can be sociable and allow you to see some great scenery whilst also being relatively low in cost to do. There are some great networks and support systems in place in the Uk for those wanting to try either of these forms of exercise with some like-minded people. Run England has over 2000 groups across the country and provides running development for all abilities; this scheme is free to sign up to. On the run England website you can also find a series of marked running routes as part of their ‘1-2-3’ initiative. The expansive national cycle network that is now in place has over 14,000 miles of marked cycle paths, many of which mean you need never go on a road either and thus stay safe.
Below are some simple tips to follow when starting running or cycling:
· Mobilise before exercising but don’t stretch. Stretch after your workout when the muscles are warm
· Start slowly, don’t expect to complete a marathon or a stage of the tour de France the first time you go out. Set realistic targets and take a rest if you need to.
· Keep track of what you are doing so you can chart your progress, this has a great knock on effect with motivation
· Expect to have some muscular soreness after training
· If running relax and maintain an upright posture, start slowly and run within yourself. Don’t worry about speed
· Possibly visit a sports therapist for a physical assessment to determine postural and muscular imbalances that might cause problems in the long term when exercising.
· Correct footwear is a must if running, many a niggle or injury is born out of using inappropriate training shoes.
· Think about doing some form of resistance exercise to support your running or cycling in an aid to develop good leg and upper body strength
· If you become a regular exerciser think about a sports massage every now and then to keep your soft tissue in great shape.
· Try and wear polyester fabrics or clothes that ‘wick’ and take moisture away from the skin
· Visit a specialist running store so you can purchase the appropriate footwear. Many running specialist stores will provide gait analysis and let you try before you buy on a treadmill to make sure you are comfortable and have the shoes that are right for you.
· If cycling, get your bike serviced and fitted to the correct height. Make sure you have the following things so you are safe and don’t get stranded. A helmet, bright clothing and lights if cycling at night. A puncture repair kit and pump.
· Don’t start a fad diet on commencing exercise, your body won’t thank you as you expend more energy and over calorie restrict.
· If fat loss is a goal with exercise then see a professional for advice on how to make sustainable sensible changes to your nutrition.
· Don’t start consuming extra carbohydrate just because you have started exercising. During most exercise sessions you don't need to take on additional carbohydrate. Don’t consume sports drinks unless you are exercising for longer than 90 minutes, water will suffice, especially if you have additional fat loss goals.
For more detailed advice on running and cycling, training plans and what’s best for you as an individual see the resources listed below. You can also contact any of the coaches at Creation who are able to prescribe bespoke run and cycling programmes alongside the appropriate resistance training programmes to get you moving in the right direction. We also provide nutritional consultations and sports massage therapy at the studio alongside a range of classes including run development and indoor cycling.
Get cracking and enjoy!
Cycling information hub. British Cycling www.britishcycling.org
National cycling charity www.ctc.org.uk
National cycle network www.sustrans.org.uk
Running information hub. Runners world www.runnersworld.co.uk
Run England www.runengland.org
Athletics clubs www.englandathletics.org
Sports massage practitionaires: www.sma.org.