Exercise - Everyone can do it!

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To most people the idea taking part in exercise means getting sweaty, out of breath, with a pumping heart rate, lots of hard work, feeling like you're going to faint. That thing we all shy away from. That every January or spring time we swear we will start again. We join a gym and pay the fee, go twice in the first week, feeling really smug, then we stop. Meanwhile the gym owners reap the financial rewards of our hard labour by doing nothing. 

But what if I was to say it didn't have to be like that. What if there was a way of exercising that was far less stressful. Well there is. It's called moving. Moving your arms moving your legs. Moving any part of your body. The definition of exercise from the Oxford English Dictionary is  "activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness"

Notice it says improve health and fitness. Not just fitness. This is what really matters as health is related to both the physical and mental well-being. The question to ask yourself is if I do this... "does it make me feel better". If you ask any marathon runner how they are feeling during the race they will more than likely say it's not particularly nice, but at the end of the race they will tell you how brilliant it was and how great they feel. 

I'm not suggesting in any way you go and run a marathon, but I am suggesting you find the "exercise" that's right for you and makes you feel good. It will be out there, somewhere, whether it's walking around your local park or golf, cycling, roller skating, dancing, jogging, swimming, pilates, yoga, Zumba, tai chi, karate, judo, tennis, netball, hockey, gardening, walking the dog, the list is endless and one of those things will make you feel happy just for a few minutes - pick that one to start!

So you've decided you want to be fitter, need to be fitter, and you want to feel better. The biggest mistake most people make when trying to start exercising is setting themselves impossible goals. Goals are great, but only if they are achievable and sensible. Saying you will go to the gym 3 times a week and exercise for an hour, when you haven't done anything properly for months is not going to happen. 

Start small. 5 minutes a day. 2.5 minutes out 2.5 minutes back. Just walking. Not a fast walk or a hill walk just a walk. Sound ridiculous? well 5 times 7 days is 35 minutes. Which is 35 minutes you didn't do the week before. Then next week add on a minute each day, 6 minutes 7 days is 42 minutes, then the next week 7 minutes every day for 7 days. Before you know it you'll be exercising for over an hour every week. If you can already manage 10 minutes a day then great! So tomorrow do 12! It's simple, it's effective, it's achievable.

I like to think of learning to exercise as the same as learning a language. You can't get it all straight away. You have to teach yourself, teach your body and teach your mind how to enjoy and progress one step at a time. Most importantly don't give yourself a hard time if it goes wrong on the odd day. Just pick it up again the next. It's only one part of healthy living and should become a lifestyle choice not a chore. 

Ali Potter BSc Hons Ost. 

Osteopath, Personal Trainer, Pilates Teacher. 
Associate Osteopath at Southwold Treatment rooms. 

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