Published by: Nicole Lark – Owner, Breathe Fitness
Don’t Wait – Start Today!
Looking to start a new fitness routine? Here are some guidelines, tips, and a few exercises to get you started!
With September just around the corner, personal trainers are starting to prepare themselves for the inevitable busyness that comes with autumn. With children going back to school, fall sports and recreational activities commencing, and summer holidays sadly over, September seems to act as a natural catalyst for many people to start (or return) to more structured exercise and to (re)build a routine of healthier habits.
My philosophy has always been instead of waiting, why not just start NOW? We are always going to be busy. Whether it is work-related, children’s activities, or family and household responsibilities, so rather than seeking for the ideal time to start, we are better off learning how to incorporate exercise and healthy habits into our weekly routine, because that is the more common state of living! More frequently than not, new clients first come to see us because they feel overwhelmed and do not know where to start.
How Much Exercise is Enough
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following for adults aged 18-64:
- Should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both.
- For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or equivalent.
- Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
Adults aged 65 years and above:
- Should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both.
- For additional health benefits, they should increase moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or equivalent.
- Those with poor mobility should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls, 3 or more days per week.
- Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups, 2 or more days a week.
The WHO guidelines can be intimidating and it may actually prevent someone from starting because if you’re starting at zero, all of a sudden finding 150-minutes (minimum) every week may seem like an impossible task!
Tips to Being Active (and Staying on Track)
Therefore, a significant role of a personal trainer is to teach people HOW they can incorporate sufficient exercise into their daily routine to make positive gains. Here are my top guidelines when starting an exercise routine:
- Do not have an “all-or-none” mentality. Start with adding in a small amount of exercise (e.g. 10-minutes) per day into your routine, while gradually building over time. Ten minutes per day for a week is 70-minutes more than you would have otherwise achieved!
- Set SMART goals. Having goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound can help you gradually achieve the results you’re striving towards. Reaching smaller goals over time will help you reach your larger goals in the long-term.
- Aim to win the long-game. You will have good days and bad days. Some days, weeks, or even months may not be great, but it is about the volume of exercise you accrue over weeks, months, and years that counts.
- Start Slowly. Starting slow allows you to gradually learn how to best incorporate exercise into your personal routine. Some people find it’s best in the morning before anyone else is awake and other commitments have not overtaken your day, while night owls may find the evenings are best when they feel more awake and alert.
- Set an alarm. Creating time can require diligence and planning. Setting an alarm the day before can be a successful strategy to remind you to take a break from whatever you’re doing and get going! Your body (and brain!) will thank you for it.
- Set a timer. If you’re a victim of inertia, setting a timer at the start of your workout can be helpful because it’s telling you: “I only need to exercise until the alarm buzzes”. Shortly after starting exercise, you will feel better and then may opt to do more, but the timer is holding you accountable to do the minimum amount you set as your goal.
- Incorporate exercise snacks. Always remember that some is always better than none. Incorporating small doses of exercise throughout your day is beneficial, and it doesn’t have to be an hour-long bout to serve a purpose. Take the stairs, park farther away in the parking lot, do 10 squats after every bathroom break, or sneak in a 2-minute wall sit in your office, etc. Over a life time, these daily habits can add up to make a large difference.
Starting Your Exercise Routine
Here are a few exercises that can be incorporated into a daily routine or warm-up prior to exercise. It will also help with basic posture and for anyone with a desk or sedentary-type job.
Overall, exercising does not have to be complicated. Over time, you can start to consider different ways to continue to build your fitness (e.g. changing the frequency, duration, intensity, or type). In the beginning, the most important factor is to be consistent in doing something! Once you have a consistent habit of committing time to exercise (regardless of type, duration, or intensity), then you can start to look at other variables such as volume, intensity, exercise selection, and load to further enhance your fitness. There is no magic bullet when it comes to your health and fitness, but I would say that the most important factor above all else is that you’re doing something on a regular basis.
Remember, there is no time like the present! Start today (not tomorrow), and build momentum over the following days, weeks, and months. Maybe that backpacking or biking holiday you always wanted to experience, or the race you’ve planned to sign-up for in the past 10 years (but have never gotten around to the required training), or the massive yard renovation you wanted to finish yourself won’t look so daunting if your strength, energy, and the drive it takes to follow-through are all skills you have already added to your toolkit.
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/initiatives/behealthy/physical-activity