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How to maintain your resolve to get fit

Many of us make new year resolutions to get fit, to exercise more or to take up a new sport, but by the end of January enthusiasm is often wearing thin.

Written by Shinu Vaghese
Published

So where do we go wrong, when we start off with such good intentions and resolve?

Benenden Hospital Lead Physiotherapist Shinu Varghese has some top tips for sticking with your pledge for the entire year:

Prepare

Don’t launch into a new exercise regime without having prepared yourself physically and mentally. Before your start date gradually ease yourself into a new routine, do a little more exercise than normal, start to make time for your new sport or gym sessions. Start slowly.

Set realistic goals

If your ultimate aim is to run a 5 km race, start with running just 1 km, the following week try 2 km, when that feels comfortable then try 3 km. Build up your distance week after week.

Or aim to go the gym every other day, or three or four times a week. If you resolve to go every day consider if this is realistic and if you really have the time. Start slowly and gradually increase your number of sessions and their intensity.

Make time to exercise

You will need to get into a new routine in order to fit in your gym session, your run or your new sport. First thing in the morning is often the best time for most, while you are feeling fresh.

How to keep motivated?

Vary your exercise session. Swap a run for a swim, or a run for a walk. If you enjoy the treadmill at the gym try a walk outside instead. If you’re a regular runner try a new route.

When will I start to see results?

After around 6-8 weeks. You will also find at this point that getting your exercise becomes addictive. You won’t want to miss a session.

No pain, no gain?

While some stiffness and a little discomfort is okay and to be expected when embarking on a new exercise regime, pain is telling you that you are stressing your body too much. Pain will also result in a lack of motivation to continue. Pain could also indicate that you have caused damage. You should rest and recover and if the pain continues you should seek professional advice.

Injuries commonly seen as a result of New Year exercise resolutions include calf and heel pain and injuries to the Achilles tendon. Ensure you warm up and cool down, especially on cold days.

How often?

If you’re doing sport professionally ideally you should train four to five times a week. For general fitness three or four sessions a week is enough.

Warming up and cooling down

Warm up with dynamic stretches – this means stretching the muscles while moving. Cool down with static stretches, standing still. Stretch calves, hamstrings, quads and biceps, triceps, deltoids and pectoral muscles if working the upper body.

Make time to exercise

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