How many times have we started an exercise programme only to give up after only a few sessions. Statistics show one main reason for this is our inability to improve due to our lack of knowledge. To achieve our full potential through correct exercise and management we must have professional help to correctly identify our aims and to help promote and foster selfmotivation over a reasonable time span.

So what will help make it happen this year? A personal trainer. This qualified professional will work with you at all times to ensure you reach your potential every session. This means you should achieve your goals more quickly and easily. Certain in the knowledge you are giving yourself the very best chance to achieve your goals.

All health professionals including doctors agree that becoming more active is beneficial to your health: You will reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and other chronic disorders It will help manage your weight You will improve your body shape It strengthens muscles and bones making everyday activity easier It is a great way to reduce stress It may help reduce cholesterol levels It can help you meet people and enjoy exercise with friends Before you start…………….. Check with your doctor first if you have any doubt about your ability to participate in an exercise programme.

First look at something you will enjoy, ensure it will fit in with other commitments and is an activity that interests you. If your priority is to get fitter then it must be one that increases your heart rate high enough and for long enough to achieve the fitness benefit e.g. football, exercise to music classes or circuit training in the gym.

The Health Education Authority (1996) have issued recommendations that we should exercise at a moderate intensity. 5 times per week, for 30 minutes. HOWEVER, start gradually and remember that even once a week has been found to have health benefits. It may have taken years to reach your present condition so realistically you must allow about 2-3 months before you begin to feel you have more stamina; a better shape and an impression of feeling fitter. The more often you participate in an activity at a level that is comfortable for you, the quicker the results, but 5 times a week should be your MAXIMUM, allowing 2 days in which to recover. Remember that if you are starting from a low level you need to build up gradually to exercising this often.

The activity you choose should have you feeling slighting breathless and warm. A brisk walk can achieve this but as you become fitter set yourself sensible realistic goals so that ou can progress further. Remember to update your goals regularly. Try to become more active in your everyday life e.g. take the stairs instead of the lift and walk more generally – it all helps. At no stage should the activity be a strain or make you feel uncomfortable or in pain.

Loose and comfortable layered clothing that can be removed as you begin to warm up is ideal for most activities. Only invest in expensive items when you know you are committed to the activity. Treat yourself when you have reached your first goal. Ladies should invest in a supportive sports bra that is fitted to your correct bust size. Strong supportive and well cushioned footwear is essential for most activities. Choose carefully to ensure a comfortable fit and a shoe that is suitable for your activity.

Firstly, check on qualifications – all good ones should display their recognised teaching qualifications – just ask! There should be an effective warm-up period at the beginning of every session and a cool down period at the end to reduce the risk of injury. Your instructor should be interested in you and your safety. There should be a screening process enquiring about previous medical and exercise histry prior to your participation. You should be shown clearly how to perform your activity with concern for your safety and for others around you. Alternative options should be offered to allow you to exercise at your own level. Your instructor should be available to talk to you at the end of the session.

Make sure you have eaten something light before you exercise.
Ensure you drink before, during and after exercise, preferably water.
Go for variety. All round fitness is gained participating in different activities.
Set realistic goals. Too much, too soon can really put you off.
Exercise with a friend. It is more enjoyable and will make it harder to give up if you are letting someone down by not turning up to a session.

Your activity should be fun and not a chore! For more advice and help with starting with exercise contact Chris Haney, telephone 679 008 021. Hondon de los Frailes.
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