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 start by doing 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.
One of the most common questions that I field from patients who are returning to exercise, how many times should I exercise per week?” Whilst the age-old adage is to go as often as possible, I encourage all my patients to start with something 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 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 taking up an exercise such as lawn bowls, start with a warm up of exercise of walking, combined with lawn bowl specific exercises, such as lunges and squats. 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.
Prior to starting any exercise program it is important to touch base with a medical professional to discuss suitable exercises based on your medical history.
Jason Lee APAM
Malvern East Physiotherapy
Jason is happy to answer any questions you may have, simply send an email to [email protected]