A new year, a fresh start. As the hangover from new year’s celebrations clears, you begin to thing of your goals for the 12 months ahead…..and let’s face it, after the crap show that was 2020, there is good reason to set positive targets for the new year. Inevitably, improving your fitness will appear somewhere on that list. But is it such a good idea to just dive into it? Perhaps not….there are a few things you should consider first.
SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR
Exercise can put a lot of stress on your body. Yes, it helps to improve both your physical and mental health; but some people may have underlying health conditions which can mean large volumes of exercise, as well as high intensity training, aren’t the best ideas to begin with.
Head to your GP and get an overall health check. Your blood pressure and cholesterol will definitely need to be checked, as well as your blood sugar levels. Your GP may also suggest a blood test to make sure everything in your system looks to be healthy.
Although you may not think it’s necessary, getting the all clear from your GP before beginning a new exercise or training program is always a good idea.
HEAD TO A PHYSIOTHERAPIST
Physiotherapists are the movement experts. If you haven’t done any exercise for a while, you may have some niggling muscle and joint problems. These can be exacerbated if you decide to begin a fitness program, so a physiotherapist can assess your body to make sure there are no major issues which could be problematic. In addition, they can provide you with some easy stretches and exercises to overcome any muscle or joint problems you may have.
The other bonus of seeing a physiotherapist is massage! Being active obviously causes tight muscles, which is a good excuse for a regular massage. Chatting to your physio about a regular massage can help to alleviate muscle soreness, and make your exercise more enjoyable!
SEE A DIETICIAN
If you are going to start a new fitness program, it may be worth looking at your diet. To get the best out of any physical activity, you need to fuel your body properly. A dietician can discuss with you anything you may need to change in your current eating patterns; explaining not only what you should and shouldn’t be eating, but why you should be eating those foods too.
If needed, a dietician can also help to build a structured eating plan to follow, in order to get the absolute best out of your body and new active lifestyle!
CONSIDER A PERSONAL TRAINER
If you don’t know where to start with a fitness plan, a personal trainer (PT) can be a good person to include. PTs will have a chat to you about your intentions and goals for the year, and help you to build a training or exercise program suited to what you want to achieve.
However, be careful when choosing a PT, as some are not as good as others. If your new PT suggests jumping straight into heavy weights or high intensity interval training, especially if you haven’t been exercising on a regular basis for quite a while, it might be a good idea to look elsewhere!
AT THE PHARMACY
Exercise can lead to sprains, strains, cuts and grazes. Head into your local pharmacy to stock up on a few essentials for your first aid kit, such as dressings, antiseptic creams and strapping tape. It’s also a good idea to have a reusable hot/cold pack on hand, as well as some anti-inflammatories and painkillers for those unfortunate injuries.
You may also like to consider some supplements to help with things like cramps and rehydration. Many pharmacies also stock protein powders and other “nutritional supplements”……..speaking to a pharmacist who has experience with these items (such as myself) can help you decide whether these types of products are right for you!
TAKE IT EASY TO BEGIN WITH
The most important part of beginning a new fitness or exercise regime? Begin slowly!!
If you dive into your training head first and push your body to it’s limits from day one, you risk giving yourself a major injury or worsening any underlying health condition you may have. You could also cause too much stress for your system, which could lead to physical burnout and the inability to continue exercising. Your mental health could be affected, your immune system could suffer, and the motivation you started with can very quickly be wiped out.
Take it easy to begin with and slowly build up your level of exercise. Talk to the right people before starting your New Year’s Exercise Resolutions. If you do things properly from the start, your body will gradually adjust, leading to a greater, more sustainable level of exercise and general health in the long term……and you will establish a new fitness routine which becomes something you enjoy and look forward to!!