With the start of Spring, it is a perfect time to get active and exercising. Returning to or starting exercise after a long period can often seem a daunting task. Just remember that is all about small and gradual steps.
The most important thing to consider before starting out is to choose an exercise that is enjoyable and practical. In order to improve health and fitness, you need to aim to do more physical activity than you are otherwise currently doing. Hence, if you haven’t been active, even walking regularly is a good starting point. Of course, there are a range of exercises that should be considered to ensure that you achieve a balance of strength, flexibility and cardiovascular exercise.
The frequency of exercise is also important. A common query with any exercise program is how often to exercise. Whilst the age-old adage is to exercise as often as possible, it is best to start with an amount that is realistic and achievable. There is no point starting out overly enthusiastically only to reduce the amount of exercise over the next few weeks. Not only is this a recipe for injury, it also doesn’t provide any overall benefit or improved fitness. If, down the track, you wish to increase your exercise per week you can gradually add exercise sessions rather than cutting back.
Warming up and cooling down are also integral to any exercise program. Prior to starting, ensure that you increase blood flow to muscles and improve elasticity to ligaments and joints. Your warm up should consist of at least 10 – 15 minutes of general movements and movements specific to your exercise. For example, if you’re a runner, an appropriate warm up may include a steady jog for 5 – 10 minutes. This can be followed by some stride throughs where you gradually increase speed over a short distance of 100 metres. To allow your body time to adapt to new forces and changes following exercise, cooling down and appropriate rest is also integral to any exercise program.
Before starting any exercise program it is important to touch base with a medical professional to discuss suitable exercises based on your medical history. Your physiotherapist is an excellent starting point to discuss safe exercise options based on your current level of fitness. Whether you’re training for a marathon or just looking to get moving, our team of physiotherapists at Malvern East Physiotherapy are well equipped to design a program to help keep you active and injury free.