So the summer is on our doorstep.
A warm one is coming too by all accounts.
Time for camping, BBQs, evenings out, family activity days and holidays. The chance to make the most of the hot weather and lounge around by the beach or swimming pool topping up your tan.
Or sadly for some of us it may mean hiding in the shade with a few layers on.
There are a lot of people who are a little embarrassed about their bodies and would rather keep it hidden. If you are in this category I can guarantee that if you make a few simple changes to your life you can start to see some major results and move closer to a body you are proud of.
Being a personal trainer I see two main surges in activity levels, it’s new years with all of the resolutions and then it is about now. 10-12 weeks before the summer where everyone wants to get their beach body ready and look and feel good for the summer.
Great! Although it shouldn’t take a resolution or holiday to want to be healthy but it’s great to have a goal to aim for e.g. look good in a bikini. A goal is a very powerful tool and increases your chances of sticking to things.
So I’m going to talk about the exercise side of things today.
This article is mainly for the people who do no or very little exercise at the moment but want to start in preparation for the summer.
Obviously exercise does more for you than help with weight loss and improve appearance. Other benefits of regular exercise:
- reduces risk of heart disease
- reduces risk of high blood pressure
- increases bone density
- reduces risk of osteoporosis
- improves strength and stamina
- increases co-ordination and balance (especially important for older adults)
- improves flexibility
- improves respiration
- improves circulation
- improves sense of well-being and reduces stress
Where to start?
Well the reason why so many people struggle with exercise is they go off way too fast. They’ll go from doing nothing to running 5-6 times a week and attending fitness classes on top. Their body will give up after a couple of weeks as they’ve taken on too much too soon.
The best way to do it is gradually, gradually introduce exercise into your life and slowly build it up little by little each week.
Just going out for a walk once a week, taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking/cycling to the shop instead of driving are good starts. The first few steps may seem like the hardest but once you get over the initial phase the rest will be a breeze.
Others ways to get more active are:
- If you work in a large office, walk to talk to your colleagues, rather than picking up the phone.
- If you use buses, get off a stop or two earlier and walk.
- Park further away from the shop and walking in rather than searching for the closest space
- If you have a cordless phone in the house, walk and talk.
You should want to exercise. If you do it right and find something you enjoy doing, it isn’t half as bad as you and a lot of people think it is.
Motivation is another big thing. You will need motivation to get out of bed and exercise, motivation to not go home and put your feet up after work and go to the gym instead, motivation to tell friends and family you are going for a run instead of a pint! It may seem tough at the beginning but it’ll get easier, just think of that goal. A good motivational tool would be a picture of what you used to look like, let that motivate you to get in that shape again.
What You Need To Start
You don’t need a gym membership or any fancy kit, equipment or training methods in order to get fit.
You need some appropriate footwear and clothing, some good guidance and a bit of motivation.
Like I said you need to take things slow to begin with, I would recommend you do resistance (weights) training along with cardio with some flexibility training (stretching) thrown in too.
If you are new to exercise it is a good idea to not start running straight away, for the first few weeks start with walking, once you find this get easier then you can introduce some light jogging leading up to faster running. Going off too fast is only going to lead to an injury and frustration.
To start try walking for 1-2 min then jog for 1-2 mins, as you get fitter increase the running and lower the walking.
Remember to stretch your legs off after your session, hold each stretch for around 2 minutes. If you don’t know what stretches to do just have a little look on the internet.
Here is an example beginner’s exercise plan to get you going:
Mon – Walk or Jog or Walk & Jog 30 mins (first 10 mins is a warm up)
Tue – Off
Wed – Workout A (see below)
Thurs – Off
Fri – Walk or Jog or Walk & Jog 30 mins (first 10 mins is a warm up)
Sat – Off
Sun – Off
Warm up – 3-4 min step ups or brisk walk
Circuit 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest
X 5 Rounds
If you don’t have dumbbells just use anything reasonably heavy e.g. bottle of water or a bag of flour.
The fastest way to mess up your exercise plan is to do too much and not resting enough. Intensity is king here so give it your all in the sessions!
On your days off why not try swimming, cycling or going for a nice long walk outdoors keep it at a light intensity.
I also recommend doing things like foam rolling, yoga, meditation massage and saunas on rest and days off, it will boost the whole process by helping you recover faster.
Rest is really important and your body needs it, especially at the beginning of an exercise program. Make sure you get around 8 hours sleep a night and try to go to bed at a reasonable time.
A good idea is to buddy up with a friend/group and do it together. It’s great for motivation when you have someone pushing you along plus it’s social so it doesn’t seem so bad then.
The key to keeping on exercising is to remove as many obstacles to exercising as possible. Make it:
- Not too expensive
- Not too time consuming
To summarise what you need to do:
- Find an exercise you enjoy
- Make sure you have appropriate clothing
- Pick when you are going to do it (time/day) and how often
- Find a friend to do it with if you like
- Start slowly and gradually build it up week by week
- Eat a clean healthy diet
- Keep track of your exercise and food (this helps)
Following the above steps should give you the best chance of making exercise a regular part of your life and will get you fit and healthy in time for the summer.
To a great summer,
Jamie ‘Roll On The Summer’ Stedman
PS 3 spaces still available for my summer personal training special offer. Click here to check it out.