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The hardest, most intimidating part of returning to an exercise routine is often the start, but remember – no matter how small that start may be, it is possible. Simply put, we need to use it or we will lose it, and there really is no benefit by putting it off until next week, or saying to yourself you need to get fit first – just start.
1. Little and often is key. Try not to be intimidated by exercise! Set yourself easy, tangible goals to begin with so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment once they are achieved. Simply doing ten minutes of activity every day will drastically improve your health.
2. Hide exercise in daily activities, such as vacuuming, washing the car, mopping the floor or going to work. All these will increase your heart rate and get you burning calories, and make all the difference to your overall activity level.
3. Walk, walk and then walk some more. In my opinion, walking is hugely underrated for its health and fitness benefits. Everyone should be walking for thirty minutes every single day. This is a non-negotiable baseline for health. To start, this can be broken down into three ten-minute walks, with the aim of building up from there.
The below workout can be completed 2-3 times each week, and is a perfect low-intensity workout for you to follow when returning to exercise. Remember to work within your own movement range and listen to your body. Re-starting a new exercise routine will place different demands on your body. If you have any concerns, check with your GP first and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.
Complete 15-20 repetitions of each of the below moves in order (this makes one circuit). Depending on how you feel and your current ability level, feel free to complete a further one or two circuits.
Warming up is incredibly important and is often overlooked. The warm-up prepares the brain and body for what is to come during the workout. Slowly increasing the heart rate and in turn blood flow will help mobilise the joints and lengthen the muscles. A good warm-up also reduces the chance of injury. We cannot expect the body to go from zero to hero instantly – think of it as a car that needs warming up on an icy day.
The warm-up requires no equipment and very little space. Simply complete 10 repetitions of each exercise in order. Exaggerate each move, attempting to make them as big as possible, which increases the body's range of movement. Repeat the complete routine three times until you feel mildly puffed out and your extremities feel warm.
A cool-down is essential following your workout to decrease your heart rate and ultimately bring your body back to a restful state.
Cooling down and completing some dynamic stretches will aid recovery by returning the muscles to their normal length, will help any muscle soreness, will help reduce levels of lactic acid in the blood and will generally help your body along with its repair and recovery process.
The cool-down involves the same warm-up exercises, so no equipment is required. Simply complete the moves in order, but at a much slower pace. Repeat the complete routine twice.
As a Register of Exercise Professionals-accredited training provider, Nicola consults for leading health and fitness brands and regularly contributes to press publications.
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