YOU know you need to exercise. Doctors tell us so, as does the media, nutritionists, friends, acquaintances, peers, and our families. The idea sounds good but actually getting started is often trickier.
Picturing themselves out of breath and sweating is enough to put some off. Unfortunately, there’s very little you can do about this aspect of exercise. OK, you can wear an expensive deodorant, but you’re still going to perspire.
Feeling a little breathless is unavoidable too. At least if you want to push yourself enough to improve your fitness. Whilst it can be uncomfortable to feel the need to catch your breath, it shouldn’t hurt. If it does, it’s a very good sign that you’re overdoing it and should stop or at least reduce your intensity.
Your breath will return to normal soon enough. It might take a couple of minutes, but it’ll happen sure as night follows day. Either that or it will stop altogether but, whilst that has to happen to all of us at some time, it’s very unlikely to occur because of exercise as long as you’re sensible.
Approaching exercise wisely requires a couple of key actions. First, if you’re in reasonably good shape and health, starting gently and building from there is likely a great way to begin. If you’re very overweight or otherwise unhealthy, consult with your GP before you try anything more strenuous than your normal routine.
A great next step is deciding what kind of exercise will keep you going. In other words, what will motivate you to make it a habit. Some people love cycling, others hate it. Swimming, skipping, running or, depending on your age and general fitness, brisk walking. The options are plentiful. Whatever you think you’d enjoy enough to keep doing, go for that.
Your overall fitness should dictate your starting point. For those who are physically OK but far from in peak condition, the couch to 5k programs can be perfect. You’re going to feel a bit worn out after the first couple of attempts but that’s kind of the point. You can’t improve your health without it being difficult, otherwise you just stay where you are.
It does get easier the further towards the target distance you move, though. That sounds somewhat counterintuitive but what’s happening is your fitness is increasing so you’re better able to tackle more difficult challenges.
The same principle applies to all forms of exercise. Don’t attempt to swim the distance from Dover to Calais the first time you get in the pool. Avoid going from zero to Tour de France yellow jersey on your initial bike ride.
The other thing to factor in is rest days. It’s risky to regularly exercise on consecutive days. If you really want to, change it up. For example, cardio one day, muscular the next. This helps guard against injury.
With good sense, exercise can become a highly beneficial and enjoyable part of your life.