The best type of exercise for beginners is the one you will actually get down to doing and not push for that elusive ‘tomorrow’ that just doesn’t come! Truth is, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve never exercised before, are a newbie to home workouts, were a keen gym workout aficionado before the years of never-ending lock-downs or if you’re starting fitness at 45… everyone needs a little help trying something new.
One of the easiest parts of starting an exercise program is deciding to do it. It’s the getting started part that is tricky. Planning and preparation are important when you’re getting started with exercise, but to be successful, you also need momentum – and the more you can create, the easier it is to stay motivated. The best way to build and maintain momentum is with action. But before you jump right in, there are a few things you should do to prepare.
Get Your Physiotherapist’s or Medical Clearance: If you have any injuries, illnesses or conditions, or you’re on medications, get the nod from your physiotherapist or health care professional to exercise. Some medications affect your vitals, and it’s important to know how that may relate to your workouts.
Prepare to Work Out: When it comes to slimming down and toning up, there are two key types of workouts: Cardio, which burns calories by raising your heart rate; and Strength-training, which builds lean muscle that boosts metabolism, the rate at which you burn calories. Together, this pairing produces powerful results.
Gather Your Essentials: You may want to invest into some basic exercise essentials such as an exercise mat, smart watch, good pair of training shoes, etc.
Record Your Measurements: Tracking your progress has many benefits. In addition to keeping you accountable to yourself and committed to achieving your goals, tracking makes it more likely to reach – and even surpass – them. Weighing yourself and keeping an exercise journal are two ways to track your progress, but taking your measurements (chest, arms, waist, hips) will tell you if you are losing/gaining inches, even if your scale doesn’t blink.
For general fitness goals, the recommended bare minimum per week is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or brisk walking and strength exercises on two or more days a week, that work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). For beginners, 3 – 4 weekly sessions are good enough to start feeling fitter and ingraining your new exercise habit as a fundamental part of your lifestyle.
For our PT readers to start the New Year on a fitness note, I present an easy-to-follow plan that will help you get fit without spending on expensive gym memberships…
To start with, I suggest installing a fitness tracker App in your smart phone, the most popular ones being Google Fit for android users and Apple Health for iPhone users. It’s a good idea to find out how many steps a day you walk now, as your own baseline. Then you can work up toward the goal of 10,000 steps by aiming to add 1,000 extra steps a day every two weeks. If your walking pace isn’t fast enough to qualify as moderate-intensity exercise, those steps still help prevent the problems that can occur from sitting too much during the day. Adding regular activity to your routine is essential and beneficial.
If you’re already walking more than 10,000 steps a day, or if you’re fairly active and trying to lose weight, you’ll probably want to set your daily step goal higher. Those with access to a swimming pool or own a bicycle, start making use of these resources as they provide excellent cardio work out. Just 45 mins of fun, thrice a week and your heart will bless you for a lifetime! For others who prefer Bawa gossip, take a brisk walk around the ‘Bawa-Baug Parks’ for 40 minutes before you reward yourself with hot gossip and friendly banter.
If you’re new to working out, body-weight exercises are a great place to start. Without the added weight from free weights or exercise machines, body-weight exercises ensure you learn correct form with low risk of injury. While this wont get you muscles or a six-pack like our Bollywood stars, it will work your whole body and provide a strong foundation on which to build your functional fitness, whether you choose to focus on gaining strength, losing weight or just building an enviable physique.
Always Start With A Warm-up: Getting your blood pumping before your workout is essential. Just a 2.5 minutes’ of 5 warm-up exercises suffices, comprising 30 seconds each of:
- Shoulder rolls / Arm circles
- Hip/leg rotations
- Ankle rotations
After those appetizers, you’re now ready for the Main Course, to be done thrice a week, two sets of each exercise with 10 reps per exercise.
- Back Extensions
(If not possible on the floor, do wall push-ups)
- Chair Dips
- Planks (30 seconds, once only)
And now for desserts – the Cool Down… is as important as a good warm up after a good work-out. By doing just 5-10 minutes of stretching or gentle mobility exercises, you allow your body to ease back into its natural resting state. This helps you recover for the next day so you can jump into a new workout without being sore. I suggest repeat the same set of exercises for 30 seconds each that you did for the warm-up and add a few easy stretches with a hold of ten seconds each.
Fitness Mubarak to you in the New Year!!