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Contact Me:
Tripti Gyan MCSP HCPC Reg
Chartered and State Registered Physiotherapist
Nottingham YMCA Health and Fitness
4 Shakespeare Street
Nottingham
NG1 4FG (map)

Tel: 07866 464 385 (Within the UK)
Tel: +44 (0) 7866 464 385(Outside the UK)

Email: tripti@triptigyan.com

How to: Start Exercising

"A man's health can be judged by which he takes two at a time - pills or stairs." Joan Welsh

The way we live in modern society has a significant bearing on the state of our health and wellbeing. In particular, the finger is pointed at two main aspects of day-to-day life in the Western world: diet and physical activity - or rather, lack of it.

Until recent times, exercise was not something we planned and fitted into our schedules when we could, but an unavoidable part of everyday life. But in the post-industrial revolution era, and particularly the late 20th century where manual labour has increasingly been supplanted by office jobs, exercise has become a recreational activity rather than a necessity. Even eating takes less physical effort than it used to do, with the development of processed foods aimed at offering convenience and speed of consumption.

Swimming is a great form of exercise for beginners

Thanks largely to medicine and improvements in hygiene, most of us can expect to enjoy much longer lifespans than earlier generations. Therefore we need to do all we possibly can to ensure that we live those years in good health, deferring the inevitable physical consequences of ageing as much as possible. In practice, this means looking at how our diets could be changed to meet our bodies' needs, and making physical activity a routine part of life instead of an occasional extra.

It is worth reminding ourselves of the accepted definitions by Casperson et al that:

Physical activity is 'any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure,' whereas exercise is 'a subset of physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive and has as a final or an intermediate objective, the improvement or maintenance of physical fitness'.

A patient of mine, Miss Heather Emmens, recently made the comment that most people view their own health very cheaply, preferring instead to pay large sums of money to the beauty industry in order to look good, hoping that this will in turn make them feel better. This may work in the short-term. However, when it comes to physicality and the benefits of health self-improvement, it is your choice to facilitate the necessary changes. It is never too late to start exercising. Here are a few tips to consider before you begin:

1) Accept the fact that you need to put the effort in.

Exercise is not something that you can buy over the counter or throw money at. Exercise requires effort and it pays dividends in the long-term when we choose to address the fundamental changes in our physiology by exercising with effort;

2) Get to know your body inside and out.

That way you will have a good working knowledge of what exercises best suit your body type, lifestyle, work demands and time schedules;

3) Think carefully about what you would like to achieve.

Everyone has time constraints. So it is not necessarily about working hard when you first start exercising. It is about working effectively on what is right for you; initially applying your time, effort and energy where it matters most;

4) Always seek advice from trained medical professionals.

Consult your GP or Physiotherapist before you begin a new fitness routine so that you can start exercising when you are feeling at your best. They will do a detailed examination, identify any areas that you need to focus on, and also highlight any exercises that may not necessarily be of benefit to you;

5) Start with simple, specific mobility and strengthening exercises that help you to build the relatively smaller, stabilising muscles in your body.

Admittedly, these exercises are boring! However, they can be done anytime, even during your lunch break. Repetition and consistency will result in you feeling stronger and able to move with greater ease and efficiency. Further, these small efforts will motivate you to strategically progress toward the results you want;

6) 20 minutes is all you need.

We were born to move. Sitting sedentary for hours at a time is an unfortunate by-product of our screen-obsessed culture. A big question when it comes to cardiovascular exercise is how long and how often one needs to do it in order to reap the benefits. According to author Gretchen Reynolds, it only takes 20 minutes at a time, particularly if you have not been all that active to begin with. "The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide the most benefit," advises Reynolds. You can begin your journey toward better health within the first 20 minutes of being active. The good news is once you've started to move, it becomes much easier to remain in motion (according to Newton's First Law);

7) It is not about exaggerated expectations - it is about becoming fitter and maintaining a healthy heart and mind.

Although you will feel the benefits of regular exercise almost immediately, it can take at least 6-8 weeks to see the aesthetic results. Even so, "If someone starts an exercise programme and improves his fitness, even if he doesn't lose an ounce, he will generally have a longer life and a much healthier life," says Reynolds.

8) Remember that regular exercise is just one aspect of a healthy lifestyle.

Diet, rest, sleep and proper relaxation all play an equally important role in helping you face everything life throws at you with energy and optimism. In addition, making the right lifestyle changes can often increase the effectiveness of any treatment you may currently be undergoing.

9 The more you exercise with effort, the more relaxed you may end up feeling.

Stimulating your body through movement can help you think more clearly and ease your mind during times of anxiety, making it easier for you to focus on the present instead of worrying. Your stress levels will sink as you are more apt to think positively about your life whilst exercising. This positive outlook will allow you to mull over challenges with a fresh perspective.

In summary, remember what Isaac Newton said: "A body in motion tends to stay in motion". Find a way to get started and start small. The motivation for repetition and consistency will come. Regular physical activity can be just the thing to help you look past the difficulties of the present, and slip into a more tranquil state of mind.

Finally, do ask for advice. We are always happy to help and to answer your questions.

Yours in good health,

Tripti

If you need any advice with regard to starting a fitness regime or improving your current fitness level, please contact us by calling us on 07866 464 385 or email us at tripti@triptigyan.com