Thursday 27/08/15

Exercise; some of us love it, some of us loathe it. Regardless, it is an essential part of life; especially if you have a job that isn’t physically demanding.

When you were younger, exercise was almost unavoidable. Sport was part of the curriculum at school, and after school you usually had an hour or two to play before your parents got home. You also had the option to participate in your favourite sport or playing with your friends all weekend.

After you graduated from school, life got a little more complicated. You got a job which took up more hours every day than school ever did. Your social life shifted into overdrive, filling your weekends with socialising and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, this was the same point in time your teenage metabolism bid you farewell.

But don’t despair; all is not lost. Getting back into exercise isn't as difficult or intimidating as it appears. The key to success is your attitude. You have to accept that your body isn’t as fit and strong as it used to be; and you have to accept that results won’t happen overnight. Don’t think of fitness as one massive job; rather a series of small steps.

Before you throw yourself into the next boot camp, or sign up for an intensive exercise program with a personal trainer, you need to get your body used to moving again. Walking is the ideal starting point. Yes; simple gentle walking. Start small and work your way up; a couple of minutes at an easy pace, on flat ground. Increase the distance and your speed as your body improves. Your target should be a 30 minute walk at a brisk pace, 5 to 6 days a week.

Once your body is a little stronger, you should consider doing squats. Again; this isn’t as ominous as it sounds. If you can sit on a chair, you’re half way there. Instead of sitting down and staying down, stand up again. Remember to engage your core muscles, and use your glutes (bum muscles) instead of your knees to do the work. When you’re strong enough, do it without the chair. Correct technique includes keeping your back straight and looking toward the horizon (both ensure you don’t curve your spine). You are looking to work your way up to 3 sets of 8 reps.

Push-ups are another exercise to consider. Find a sturdy section of wall and place your hands shoulder width apart and take one step back. Engage your core muscles and perform your first rep. You want to achieve 3 sets of 8 reps. When your strength builds up, increase the difficulty by taking another step backward. From there, move onto push-ups on your knees, and eventually full push-ups.

These exercises require no equipment, and will help you improve your strength, endurance and overall health. These steps will take you a few weeks to get comfortable with; but once you are confident, you can move on to bigger and better things, such as joining a gym or self-defence class.

Don’t be too harsh with yourself. Every step you take is a step in the right direction. Remember, you don’t find the time to exercise, you make the time to exercise.