We are built to be active, so a lack of activity is a serious risk to our health and wellbeing. These days experts believe sedentary behaviour is just as dangerous to our health as smoking.
The well-known health risks caused by sedentary behaviour is what drives many people each year to begin a new fitness regime. Even with the best of intentions, sadly most people will fall off the bandwagon when the reality of having to work hard and make sacrifices hits home.
Let’s keep it real. If you haven’t exercised in a while, it can be really intimidating to start a new exercise regime. It will be even tougher if you have been sitting around and over indulging over the festive season. A health and fitness change must be IMPORTANT enough to YOU to make a CHANGE, otherwise you are likely to quit.
When you first start exercising be aware that the first couple of weeks will be the hardest. This is due to the muscle soreness associated with starting an exercise regime and because the new healthy habits have not yet been formed. The good news is the body will adapt to exercise quickly (reducing the soreness) and it only takes 21 days to form a healthy habit. Once the good habits are ingrained, it will actually feel better to exercise than not to exercise.
The significant fitness benefits easily outweigh the hard work required to be fit. Below are 7 tips to help you stay on track so you will be fitter, not a quitter.
Tip 1 - Be SMART
Set goals that follow the SMART criteria;
Specific - Precisely what you want to achieve, e.g. complete a Boot Camp programme.
Measurable - Objective assessments, e.g. body measurements, weigh-ins, strength test.
Attainable - It should be challenging but not too hard that you are likely to fail.
Relevant - Focused on your goal.
Time bound - Deadline for each goal.
Put your goals in writing and split your goals into; Short term (weekly) and mid-term (6 weeks) goals. Recheck your goals every day or as often as required.
Tip 2 - Be PREPARED or PREPARE to fail
Follow a structured Training Programme so you know what you are doing each day. Just getting out the door for a run, or going to the gym will not work for most people. An effective programme should involve three sessions a week for maintenance and 4-6 times a week for improvements. Using a Record Book is ideal for logging goals and progress. It also serves as a motivational boost when you want to compare how far you have come.
Tip 3 - FUEL UP and HYDRATE
Physically active people need more nutrients than sedentary people. If you consistently feed your body inadequate fuel your body will perform inadequately, so try to eat a balanced diet of mainly whole foods. You can’t go wrong if you choose foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories. Try to drink 2-3 litres of water a day, especially in hotter weather.
Tip 4 - Be your BEST with adequate REST
Major studies have proven that having adequate rest can prevent injuries.
Try to have 1-2 days of rest a week, and on your rest days conduct extra stretching. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep, each night. If you are tired or sore there is the possibility of losing motivation. Fatigue diminishes performance which in turn affects progress.
Tip 5 - COMMIT to get FIT
Research suggests that a lack of accountability is one of the main reasons why most people quit their fitness regimes.
Look for ways to keep yourself accountable, e.g. register for a local fun run (try to register early so that the commitment is made).
You could also sign up for a fitness programme and/or find a friend or a colleague to exercise with you. If you have planned to meet someone or a group on a certain day, it is a lot harder to find an excuse not to workout.
Tip 6 - DRESS for SUCCESS
If you are planning on doing vigorous exercise then buying the correct sport shoes is crucial for comfort and injury prevention. Visit a shoe shop that provides gait analysis which reveals your foot strike pattern. Buy comfortable exercise attire, 100% cotton tends to retain sweat causing chaffing, irritation and even blisters. Synthetic materials e.g. polyester, nylon and lycra, allows the moisture to rise to the surface where it can evaporate. A comfortable well fitted sports bra is paramount for women.
Tip 7 - INCIDENTALS are ESSENTIAL
Increases in technology have meant a decline in the amount of Incidental activity we do, which is thought to be a major contributor to the increased rates of obesity. Inactivity particularly sitting, is very bad for your health. The more your body moves the more kilojoules are used, so even a small bout of Incidental activity is effective. Some examples of Incidental activity include; walking, gardening, housework, stacking firewood and washing your car.
Start to find reasons to get off your backside and onto your feet. If you are on the computer try standing or sit on a swissball, and get up and move every 20 minutes to burn the glucose that has accumulated in your blood stream. When you are out; park your car away from your destination and walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator and play actively with your children.
Think of exercising and incidental activity as an OPPORTUNITY to improve your health and wellbeing.
If you are MOVING you are IMPROVING!
By following these 7 tips in conjunction with a healthy eating plan, you will be a fitness machine this year!
If you want more accountability, structure and motivation in your training regime, I encourage you to enlist on my Boot Camp with Kaz online programme; https://www.bootcampwithkaz.co.nz/p/programme
Karen Hulston was a NZ Army Advanced Qualified Physical Training Instructor for over 10 years, and was the first female to qualify into the NZ Army Physical Training Corps. Today she is a health and fitness coach who runs both live and online Boot Camp training programmes. Karen is also mum of four young children. Learn more about Karen and her programmes at bootcampwithkaz.co.nz
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