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Make time to move more

Exercise gives you the opportunity to meet new people, dial down depression and anxiety, sleep better, increase your energy levels and is the most important step you can take to living a long, happy life.

One small thing: When you begin exercising, start small with just 10 to 15 minutes. Increase the time and intensity as you gain stamina and confidence.

Getting fit can seem like an insurmountable challenge if you’re recovering from injury, a health condition or have led a largely sedentary lifestyle. And who has the time to add another chore to an already jampacked schedule? But true fitness is not about running a marathon or showing off your abs. It’s a vital component of health and holistic wellbeing.

“Fitness is a measure of how you can achieve your daily activities and with how much ease,”explains physiotherapist Adele Pudney of AP Physiotherapists at the Wellspring Centre in Cape Town. “This includes your activities of daily living, such as work, domestic chores, as well as exercise and training.”

Change the voice inside your head

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity has more than doubled since 1980, and in 2014 it reported that more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight worldwide. In South Africa, 28.3% of the population is obese, the World Population Review 2019 has revealed. So it’s important to stop seeing basic fitness as a negative when it’s one of the best ways to avoid becoming a statistic.

“Fitness is something we get to do,” said author Pete Magill in a piece he wrote for Runner’s World. “Something that makes us better people. Something that allows us to enjoy our life more fully. Sure, others may benefit from it – our partners, our children, our pets – but at the end of the day, fitness is something that we own. It’s a gift we give ourselves.”

Start today

“No matter what your starting point, improving your fitness level begins with increasing your activity level. This might be walking a bit further, taking the stairs, spending more time outdoors or increasing your training programme,” explains Pudney. If you’re also trying to lose weight, you’ll need to decrease your kilojoule intake and increase aerobic activity, but Pudney believes the benefits to overall wellbeing go far beyond just losing weight.

“Increasing your movement, and thus fitness, has huge health benefits, including improved management (and even prevention) of chronic conditions like hypertension and heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, chronic pain and many other conditions. If you are already moving well, find an activity you like and do it more often.”

Dr Greg Venning, author and chiropractor at Peak Chiropractic in Cape Town, agrees: “How each person achieves fitness is going to be personalised, as there is no single path to fitness. Find the things you love and approach them playfully, and practise them for mastery. That will accelerate your short-term results and give you long-term staying power.”

Make time to move more

Once you’ve decided to move more and settled on what gives you joy, you have to schedule the time. First thing in the morning, during your lunchtime or after work – decide what works best and put the “appointment” in your calendar.

How much time should you set aside? The WHO recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, which equates to 30 minutes a day, but if you’re just starting, begin with 10 to 15 minutes and increase the time and intensity as you gain stamina and confidence.

Proceed with caution

Improving fitness isn’t easy and for some progress can be slow, so you’ll want to ensure that you are aware of the possible challenges you might face. Give yourself time to adjust to the activity as well as the highs and lows of your fitness journey.

When your body experiences stress or pain, your brain’s hypothalamus produces neurochemicals called endorphins, which suppress the unpleasant feelings of discomfort or pain and boost feelings of general wellbeing – that means working out after a bad day at the office can turn your mood around. Use the post-exercise high as encouragement to keep going.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts you might find useful.

Do…
  • Set realistic goals about what level of fitness you want to achieve.
  • Continue to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Start small and make steady daily, then weekly, improvements.
  • Get a workout buddy who will challenge and motivate you.
  • Stick to your commitment to exercise for good health.

 

Don’t…
  • Reward yourself with a cheat meal after your workout.
  • Make excuses about why you can’t exercise.
  • Starve yourself to speed up weight loss; your body needs fuel to exercise effectively.
  • Ignore the value of rest as well as stretching before and after exercise. (It’s a good idea to stretch before and after a workout and for at least 15 minutes every day.)
  • Forget to track your progress with a device or journal.

Exercise gives you the opportunity to meet new people, dial down depression and anxiety, sleep better, increase your energy levels and is the most important step to living a long, happy life.

3 fitness trends to try

1. Skipping: A great cardio workout using a skipping rope, with the potential to burn a lot of kilojoules in a short time.

2. Barre: A form of ballet-inspired physical exercise using the ballet barre to improve balance and flexibility, while toning your muscles.

3. Aquacise: A good way to start your journey to fitness and improve it incrementally in a body-supporting water environment.

Disclaimer: Pick n Pay recommends that your consult with your doctor or a medical professional before starting any new exercise programme. An exercise regimen is best tailored to the individual and their unique health profile. Any exercise carries risk of injury – especially if you have a pre-existing health condition. The individual accepts sole responsibility for any loss or damage that may result.