Exercise your way to a healthier lifestyle in 2013
Written by Emma Burbidge Posted in Health
The festive period has been a time to eat too much, drink too much and spend far too much time watching TV!
However, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the January blues and cursing that newly-formed post-Christmas belly, then never fear, for we have a number of solutions that will get you in shape in no time.
The UK is the second most obese nation in the world, second only to the USA which brought McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken to the world. If this is not enough incentive for doing exercise, then there are a number of other reasons for exercising regularly.
- Exercise can improve your muscle tone, helping to boost your confidence and increase your self-esteem
- It can release endorphins giving you a natural high. This will help to raise your happiness and keep you motivated in your work or study throughout the day
- Exercise can keep you energised, helping to wake you up in the morning or give you a boost after a long day
- Exercising regularly means that you will sleep better and longer
- It can improve your mental health by making you feel less stressed
- It can give you a longer life span by massively reducing your chance of getting heart disease, diabetes and a host of other diseases later in life
- Exercise does not have to be a lone activity, it can give you the chance to get out of the house and meet new like-minded people.
How to exercise
This will depend on the kind of activity you enjoy and the money you have at your disposal. Very few young people have the means to pay for a personal trainer or monthly gym membership, so we are going to miss this out entirely and tell you about the things you can do to exercise much more cheaply.
- Work out at home – you might not have thought it, but exercising at home is very possible. There are a number of free workout videos on YouTube like this one. Even doing just 5 minutes a day of sit ups or press ups will enable you to enjoy some of the benefits of exercise and is a good place to start if you are unsure about what form of exercise you might enjoy
- Jogging – You do not need any money to do jogging. All you need is some suitable shoes and a track suit. In the summer you can get away with shorts and a T-shirt. In the winter you need to wear something to keep warm, but with layers in case you get too hot. The important thing is to wear clothes which you can run comfortably in. Any trousers – except jeans – will do the trick. One way to start jogging is to do 2 minutes jogging, followed by 3 minutes quick walking. Repeat this cycle 6 times. Then you can build up the jogging element by 15 seconds a week, until the walking is eventually phased out
- Swimming – This is excellent exercise as it uses lots of muscles in your body. You might need to spend a bit of money each time you go swimming though and there could be other costs to take into account, such as your swimming kit and getting to and from the swimming pool
- Exercise classes – This gets top marks for the social aspect of exercise. You are sure to meet many like-minded people. You also get to try your hand at things like yoga, zumba, aerobics and pilates, all with different techniques and developing skills such as hand-eye co-ordination. However, note that there is usually a small charge and/or membership fee involved in these classes, and you may also have to travel to get there.
Making an exercise regime and sticking to it
Once you have decided what form of exercise is best for you, you can devise your exercise regime. This is your plan of action for getting fit and staying healthy.
Set up some goals for your regime. What do you hope to achieve? You might also consider signing up for a charity run or putting your name down for a marathon just to give you something to work towards and to keep you motivated.
Next, establish some order to your regime. The important thing is to start small and build yourself up, otherwise you could end up seriously hurting yourself. Exercise should begin with a warm up, then a bit more rigorous activity, before a cool down.
Rigorous exercise should increase your heart rate by between 60% and 70% and it should also make you breathe more heavily. Start with just 20 minutes 3 or 4 times a week and build up from there.
Set a time in your diary when you are going to do exercise and stick to it. If possible, try and do exercise in the morning as experts say this is the best time. This will keep you motivated throughout the day and will mean that you are raring to go!
Ask your friends if they would like to do the exercise regime with you. This will really help, as you are much more likely to go for a run if not doing so means you are letting someone down. If you can’t find someone to do your activity with, you can look for clubs in your area. You might be pleasantly surprised by the number of people who like exercise, and are looking for buddies to accompany them.
The important thing is to keep at it. But don’t push yourself too far! You won’t lose weight overnight, but you will make progress, so keep going and you will enjoy the benefits of exercise.
Good luck and happy New Year!