Make exercise fun and set realistic goals, but don’t go from zero to hero, advises Juli-Ann Riley of Riley Physios.
At the beginning of a new year we set goals. Exercising more is on top of the list for most of us, and this is wonderful; exercise is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. It has a multitude of benefits, including improving mental health and mood, memory and brain function, sleep and physical health. It can also assist in weight management and decrease the risk of many chronic diseases – such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Exercise also improves muscle strength and balance, and reduces stiffness, pain and fatigue.
But here is a tip; don’t go from zero to hero! A lot of injuries happen when you do too much too soon. I often repeat the phrase: “Start low. Go slow.” Allow your body time to adjust to the new challenges it is facing, and adapt accordingly. This is how you can make the changes you want to see and feel.
The general guideline is to increase exercise no more than 10% per week. Only increase one thing at a time, whether it be the frequency of work-outs, distance, speed or degree of difficulty. This is a very rough guideline, and a lot of people need to take things even slower – especially if they have recurrent/chronic musculoskeletal conditions, are older or have chronic health conditions.
Be sure to warm up, hydrate sufficiently, use the correct shoes and equipment, correct your training techniques and give your body enough time to rest and recover. Cross training (doing various different exercise) is very useful as it works different parts of the body in different ways, leading to a more balanced athlete – and one who is less bored and prone to injury.
Everyone is different, so an individualised program is best. Physiotherapists are movement experts and can assist you if you are needing a specialised program due to health or musculoskeletal conditions. They can also identify and address underlying risk factors for injury, and assist with enhancing performance.
I wish you all the best with your exercise and sporting goals this year. My final advice is to make exercise more fun, include friends or family, and keep track of your progress.
Disclaimer: This is for information purposes and does not constitute medical advice; please contact your healthcare professional.
Juli-Ann Riley is a local physiotherapist with a special interest in the treatment of sports injuries. She enjoys being active through swimming, hiking, trail running, bodyboarding, scuba diving, snorkelling and paddling. Juli-Ann has completed two single Dusis and loves exercise that is fun and takes her out into nature.
FOR MORE INFO:
- The Gillitts Medical Centre, 15 Old Main Road, Gillitts
- 031 764 2750
- Juli-Ann Riley Physiotherapists: Femina Health, 75 Old Main Rd, Kloof | 031 767 3989