Starting to get fit? Here's what to remember.
Beginning an exercise program is great but making mistakes could leave you feeling physically and mentally sore! Getting it right will lead to you looking and feeling great – ready to take on more! Remember these easy tips.
Do a warm up
- Make sure you warm up gently before training – easy running or walking followed by some light stretching will loosen your joints and make the running or other exercise feel much easier.
- Warming up raises your body and muscle temperatures and gets your cardiovascular, and nervous systems (in other words your heart, lungs and muscles) ready for action by gently increasing the blood circulation.
- Any connective tissues that haven’t been worked through a full range of motion recently will be stretched out and so ready for exercise. The increased blood flow means more oxygen gets to the muscles – that gets rid of waste products that can contribute to soreness and also helps bring more oxygen rich blood to your muscles leading to better performance and fitness.
- Warm down by doing the same easy walking/running and stretching after training. This will help prevent stiffness and soreness. It will also improve your mobility and flexibility over the longer term.
Don't push too hard, too soon
A common reason for soreness is trying to do too much too soon. Don’t try to get ahead of yourself. Start gradually and aim to finish feeling that you could do more if it was needed. Run within yourself. With time you will get used to what training you can handle and how long it takes you to recover. In the mean time it is wiser to err on the side of caution.
If you are a beginner or have not done much exercise for a long time start with something like brisk walking rather than running. It will raise your heart rate, burn calories and start stimulating your key muscle groups. In other words it will take you on to the next step.
Gradually build up the time you work for and then introduce one shorter but slightly faster session a week. If you’ve started with walking you can mix walking and running – one minute of running, one minute of running, then gradually increase the spells of running.
Many people expect that once they start exercising they will feel flushed with energy after a few days. In fact, to start with, the opposite often occurs. Your body isn’t used to the exercise which has a tiring effect. If you are feeling drained have an easy day or rest day even if your training plan says otherwise. As your body adapts you will be able to handle more and more. The key is to build yourself up and not break yourself down.
Overexertion will lead to stiffness and soreness and this is what causes many people to give up on exercise completely. If you do make a mistake and overdo it follow these steps to get on the road to recovery:
- Back off. Allow your body time to recover. Take rest days.
- Sleep. Get a few good night’s rest in. Often sleepless nights come on the back of overtraining so be sure to rest up. The tiredness also diminishes your enthusiasm so be sure to rest up.
- Stay hydrated. Drink lots of fluids, particularly water and fruit juice, and try to cut down on tea and coffee. You should drink at least two litres a day and your urine should be pale and clear.
- Eat healthily. Your weight will arrive at the appropriate level with proper nutrition and exercise. Being hydrated will raise your weight in the short term but will help your get slim. Eat the right foods to ensure you get the proper nutrients your body needs
- Stay gently active. Light walking will help get the oxygen rich blood flowing through your muscles and loosen them out.
One element I really regret not doing when running at my peak was not doing yoga. The amount of training I was doing was making me very stiff and immobile easpecially in thelower back and it led to injuries. Consider doing some yoga. It's great for runners and if you can find a 15 mins a couple of times a week, it would help keep you supple and ready to run! Check out our yoga and running article.
Little and often is better than a big effort and then nothing for three days as you recover. Beasting yourself just ends up with you in pain and is demotivating. Staying motivated and training regularly are the basics to getting fit.