Ready, Set, Exercise!
We’ve all had the thought before. You know, the one that comes to you at 2 a.m. when you’re captivated by an infomercial that promises abs of steel in four-and-a-half minutes a day on some complicated contraption. Or maybe the thought crosses your mind while you’re chasing the grandkids around, thinking how nice it would be to have the energy of an 8-year-old. Still have reservations? Here are answers to four common questions about getting started on the path to physical fitness.
The best type of exercise is the one that you’ll do, so start slow.
“The easiest thing to do is start some sort of a walking program,” Lucett says. “The majority of people can do that. And then there are all sorts of strengthening activities that just use your body weight—push-ups, sit-ups, lunging movements. These will start to improve your strength and coordination.”
If walking in a circle starts to get monotonous, Lucett suggests switching it up. Get out of your neighborhood and go hiking or take a class, such as yoga, swimming or belly dancing.
If you’re a numbers person, try speed and agility drills like sprints and relays. Time yourself and see if you can improve on your personal best each workout.
“Make the activities fun,” Lucett says. “Change it around often enough so that it’s stimulating for you.”
Do I have to exercise on Saturdays?
Lucett advises exercising at least three days a week for 30 minutes at a time to start. And, yes, breaking up workouts—for example, 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night—counts.
“Try to advance to five days a week for 30 minutes,” he says. “Or, if you incorporate resistance training, do three days of 20 minutes of aerobic exercise and two days of resistance.”
“Resistance” refers to strength training and includes using free weights. If you don’t have any, substitute water bottles, heavy canned goods or other hefty household objects.
How do I know if it’s safe to exercise?
“For individuals who’ve never worked out before, you’ll want to check with your doctor before starting a fitness routine,” Lucett says. Even if you’ve worked out in the past but stopped for a significant amount of time, it’s always a good idea to get your doctor’s OK. “There might be underlying issues you’re not aware of, such as high blood pressure,” Lucett says.
But keep in mind, a medical concern doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from starting an exercise routine (sorry!). You’ll just need to adjust your workouts so they’re safe, or your doctor might recommend medication to help control an issue like hypertension.
What can I do to stay motivated?
Having someone there to push you and keep you going can be a huge help, especially when getting started. Recruit a friend, and set up an exercise plan. You’ll be less likely to bail on a workout if you know you’re leaving your partner hanging. For some people, joining a gym keeps them motivated, wanting to get their money’s worth. But it doesn’t work for everyone, so use caution when signing a contract.
“Eventually you want to get to a point where you’re addicted to moving,” Lucett says. “Soon, your day won’t feel complete without some sort of workout or activity.”
Visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/fitnessprogram or call 678-312-2810 to set up an appointment with a GMC exercise specialist.