So, you are looking ahead to summer and have made a promise to yourself to get fitter and ready to show off your sleek new body on the beach…the question is what are you going to do to achieve this?
Choosing the right form of exercise for you may just need a bit of careful thinking. If you do not participate in something you enjoy then the likelihood of sticking to it for the long haul is doubtful. No-one wants to do something week in and week out that they find a chore. Perhaps you are already doing some form of exercise but want to up the ante a little more? Again, finding the right training – that offers some variation from what you are already doing – is key to success.
Let’s take a look at how to choose the right exercise program that you will love – and stick to!
First of all, are you more of a “team player”, a “class-mate” or do you prefer to “fly solo”? These are very important questions to ask yourself when choosing an exercise program. If you like to get into your own head space with your fitness regime, then attending a class or joining the local football team may not be the right choice for you. Don’t be influenced by what your friends like to do – if it really doesn’t appeal to you then find something else. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing then you won’t stick to it.
What are you hoping to achieve?
This is another critical thing to ask yourself. There are many answers to this question and unless you can be specific about this you will likely not be successful in your endeavours. Different programs will provide different outcomes. Are you interested in increasing your cardiovascular health? Then finding a cardio class or regular bouts of running, swimming or cycling will help to achieve this. Are you trying to build more lean muscle tissue and sculpt a leaner physique? Then resistance training is where you want to spend most of your time.
However, it is important that you don’t become too narrow in your mind-set with your exercise regime, because developing an all-round fitness is important too. And, whilst a good strength training program can actually provide cardiovascular health benefits while simultaneously building strong muscle tissue and increasing bone density, the same cannot be said of cardio training. Cardio exercise will, of course, provide cardiovascular benefits, but you won’t see any improvements in muscle tissue or bones. Choosing different types of exercise to complement each other will help you to improve in several areas, offering you better health and fitness overall.
The type of person that you are, and whether you are experienced in exercising or not, both play a role in the choice of exercise that will suit you best.
Who Are You?
- Novice Newbie – don’t try to run before you can walk! Whilst this can be quite literal, (you don’t want to start a running program if you are struggling to even walk a certain distance at a moderate to brisk pace!) obviously it also means don’t bite off more than you can chew – take your time and start from the beginning – your body will thank you for it in the long run when it is progressing injury free!
- Experienced Exerciser – choose something competitive (that can also mean being competitive with yourself as opposed to others), challenging and dynamic. You need a program that will keep you interested and moving forward.
- Spiritual Soul – something like yoga is probably more your bag. Connecting the mind and body in movement can be incredibly uplifting and energising.
- Social Butterfly – if you like being sociable then classes are going to appeal to you. Classes offer a wealth of different programs, and are usually supported well, which means that you can find like-minded people attending and create a new social network for yourself, whilst benefiting from the regular exercise. Car sharing can also make this a great way of providing motivation & accountability plus is better for the environment!
- Outdoor Fun – if you enjoy being outside most of the time then choose activities that reflect this – bike riding, outdoor bootcamps, hiking, climbing etc… These can all be done on your own, or with others.
But perhaps you hate the idea of formal exercise altogether? No problem – incorporating regular brisk walking, ditching the car and riding a bike occasionally, taking the stairs instead of the lift, playing with your children or grandchildren (or partner) can all have a positive effect on your health outcomes. Including more movement in your day generally will help to increase your fitness and improve your overall health markers. Bodyweight exercises can be performed in minimal space, without any equipment, and can be adapted to suit any existing issues that you may have. (Try the bodyweight routine at the bottom of this article!). You don’t need to attend a gym to improve your strength and fitness – but you DO need to be consistent, even if you are doing exercise at home.
Remember too, that even if you go to the gym for an hour every day, if the rest of your day is spent sitting down either at work or commuting, then the benefits are actually very minimal. Getting up regularly during your day to move about is imperative to better health. Think about setting up a regular walk during your lunch hour – perhaps you can organise a few of you to go together to help boost morale and keep you all motivated. Build walking into your life as much as possible – it is a fabulous way to increase your general movement. For example, getting off the bus a couple of stops earlier can provide a 20 minute walk at the beginning and end of your working day – try to walk briskly to raise your heart rate.
- Choose exercise that you enjoy
- Choose more than one type of exercise to do during the week
- Vary the intensity of your exercise – push harder on some days, whilst more moderate on others
- Choose exercise options that fit your lifestyle
- Join a class or social sports team if you enjoy company while you exercise
- Have alternative exercise options that don’t depend on good weather or daylight or you might find yourself cancelling once too often
Simple At-Home Bodyweight Routine:
Repeat 4 rounds as quickly as possible.
40 Jumping Jacks
30 Abdominal Crunches/Sit Ups
10 Push Ups (on your knees if necessary)
What is YOUR preferred choice of exercising?