Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Tips for exercising as a beginner

Being forced into lockdown poses a challenge for those of us that usually rely on being out and about to remain fit and healthy. Still, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Instead of being active in our daily lives, we must adapt to being at home and try our hand at some more serious exercise. Whether you are hoping to stay healthy during this tough period or just looking for a way to pass the time – I have a few tips to bear in mind when taking up serious exercise for the first time. 

I used to do a lot of sport when I was younger. Granted, I don’t think I ever really liked it all that much but I was a competitive swimmer for many years and have tried my hand at football, tennis, golf and athletics in my time. So, despite my usually lethargic nature, I think I might be qualified to offer a bit of practical advice when it comes to finding ways to exercise during lockdown. 

Exercise is a wonderful way to look after your physical and mental health in the current climate. Still, you have to make sure you’re doing it right, so have a read of these tips if you want to know where to start. 

Start simple and then build up your strength

This is the right attitude to take, regardless of what sort of exercise you’re doing, whether it is going for your allotted one run a day, lifting weights or doing some press-ups. The goal is to improve your health, not destroy your body out of boredom. 

If you decide to go for a run, once a day as a way to stay in shape, plan where you are going to run and make it realistic. Don’t jump right into a five-kilometre sprint. All this will do is exhaust you, most likely before you’re a third of the way to your goal and put you off jogging for the rest of your life. 

Keep the distance short to start with and go for a nice, easy run. Get used to getting up in the morning and running this distance. If it feels much too easy for you, then you can start adding on distance. The aim is to finish your exercise tired but not broken by exhaustion. Only when you start getting used to the exercise, is it a good idea to start putting more pressure on yourself. 

Stretch and work on your breathing

After you have completed any exercise, remember to stretch out your body. If you’ve gone for a run, stretch your calves. If you’ve been lifting weights, make sure to stretch your arms. If you don’t, your tired limbs will start giving you grief for the next few days. This is something that has put me off exercise more than once. 

Breathing, believe it or not, is also an important part of staying healthy. When you’re exercising, the breathing needs to be kept slow and measured. Don’t go for big gulps of air unless you want to run with a stitch in your side. 

Timetable your workout

People are naturally inclined to follow the path of least resistance and, especially with everything that’s going on, it can be easy to lose track of time and lack motivation. So, write down on a piece of paper what time you’re going to start your exercises and how long you want them to last. 

I would recommend picking a time fairly early in the morning. Get it out the way so that you aren’t dreading it for the rest of the day and, depending on your living situation, going for a run, or working out in the house first thing in the morning, will make distractions from other people a lot less likely. 

Music can be good but remember you’re not going to a concert

Music, of course, can be nice to listen to when you’re exercising but make sure it’s the right kind of music. When I exercise, I need to focus on what I’m doing to avoid getting distracted. It’s a lot like studying for an exam. If the music drowns out your thoughts, then it probably isn’t something you should be listening to. The same goes for a workout. 

Not everyone has the same access to facilities that make exercising at home easier. Hopefully, with this practical, general advice, you can use lockdown as an opportunity to better your health or, at least, get yourself away from Netflix every once in a while!

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