Consider for a moment there is something you could do that would help you live a longer, healthier, happier life. You’d do it, right? Well, exercise is that thing. Usually, the biggest obstacle to moving more is getting your head in the right space, but once you make the commitment to just do it, all the benefits follow. Promise!
1. Why should I do it?
Let us count the whys! Exercise will help you lose fat, tone flab, strengthen muscles and bones, improve
flexibility, keep your heart healthy, reduce risk of illness and disease, ward off the blues, keep your brain sharp, increase energy levels, boost your sex drive and help you rock those skinny jeans. That last bit is totally superficial, but if that’s what motivates you to get up and boogie, so be it!
2. So if I exercise, I can eat whatever I like?
Er, nope. You get the most bang for your exercise buck when you simultaneously nourish your body with wholesome, nutritious food. Quality fuel matters! The occasional wild splurge won’t hurt, but if you make a habit of exercising to eat, don’t be surprised if any real progress eludes you.
3. Do I need to join a gym?
Absolutely not. Walking in the fresh air is free and working out at home is super convenient. However, a gym offers access to trainers who can show you the ropes; this can be especially useful for learning how to correctly use free weights and machines. Gyms also offer many kinds of group fitness classes that can help you forge new friendships. Win win!
4. What is strength training and will it bulk me up?
In strength or resistance training, your muscles contract against force or weight. The idea is to complete a certain number of repetitions and gradually increase the weight you lift, pull or push. It can be done using free weights, machines, kettle balls, resistance bands, or even your own body weight with push-ups, sit-ups and squats. Women typically don’t bulk up, as we lack the necessary testosterone required for intense body building. It’s great for weight loss, toning and strength.
5. Ok, so how much should I do?
Ideally, you should aim to fit in at least 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week. Do it all at once, split it up into 10 minutes increments, whatever works. Find your groove and move. Many workout DVDs promise results in just 25 minutes per day. We know you’re busy, but come on, you can carve out 25 minutes!
6. How can I stay motivated?
Continually challenge yourself by doing different types of exercise and by varying the intensity and duration of workouts. This prevents boredom and keeps your body guessing. Walk, run, bike, dance, swim, kickbox, try crossfit, strength training, tai chi, yoga, Pilates – you’re spoiled for choice! Keep your goals in mind too, that helps.
7. Am I too old to huff and puff?
Never. We love the story of Joy Johnson, a US gal who took up running at the age of 59. She was 86 when she completed the New York Marathon in 2013. Fauja Singh, a 103-year-old marathon runner from India is still going strong. He started running at 89. EIGHTY-NINE! Now, we’re not suggesting you sign up for 42km, but moving more as you get older helps keep you supple and strong, which has a huge impact on quality of life.
8. What should I do if I just don't feel up to it?
Honestly? Do it anyway. Give it 15 minutes, then see how you feel. Chances are you’ll choose to keep going. In fact, those ‘can’t be bothered’ days are often the ones that matter most when it comes to proving something to yourself. Obviously, take it easy if you are legitimately under the weather.
9. Am I too overweight to exercise?
Absolutely not. Whatever your size, as a beginner, it’s best to set small, achievable goals. Walking is an effective, low-intensity activity that will help shift kilos fast. Even 10 or 15 minutes per day will make a difference. Look at it this way: when you are up and moving a little, you are doing a whole lot more than someone who is parked on the couch.
10. How long before I notice a difference?
It may take a few weeks of regular exercise
to see the beginnings of shape change or feel a difference in how your clothes fit, but the psychological benefits are immediate. As well as the happy hormones exercise ignites, it simply feels great knowing you have made such a positive choice for your physical and emotional wellbeing.
11. I have back/knee/arthritis problems. Am I off the hook?
No. Although it seems counterintuitive, moving more, not less, helps keep achy joints supple. Swimming is an excellent low-impact workout that conditions the entire body. Cycling is easy on joints and burns major calories. If necessary, you can even do a workout with hand or leg weights while seated in your chair.
12. How can I tone my arms?
Bicep curls with dumbbells, chair dips and push-ups on a stability ball are all great exercises for upper body strength and toning pesky bat wings.
13. How can I shrink my butt?
While ‘spot reduction’ isn’t really practical, you can certainly target areas for toning and sculpting.Squats are great for taut bums and thighs. To help you perform squats correctly, get yourself a stability ball and do them against a wall. Simply place the ball between a wall and the curve of your lower back. With feet hip-width apart, stomach in and shoulders level, gently bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat position, making sure not to extend your knees past your toes. Hold for three seconds, then stand back up. Do a set of five reps, rest for 30 seconds, then repeat the set three times. Gradually increase the number of reps as you get better at it.