exerciseDid you know that staying fit and healthy can add as many as four years to your lifespan? It can also significantly reduce your risk of disability and the aches and pains that many people wrongly assume are inevitable in old age. It can give you more energy within weeks of you getting started, reduce the amount of time that you want to sleep for, improve your mental health, and generally boost your appetite for life. All these benefits come on top of the common reasons why many people choose to take it up, such as controlling bodyweight and building muscle. If you’ve never really exercised before, or you haven’t since you were made to at school, you’ll find it’s easier to get into than you might think, and it can also be a lot of fun.

Types of exercise

When it comes to exercise, there are three major things that you need to focus on. Depending on your goals, you may want to do more of one than of the others, but doing some or all of them will keep you healthy and help you to reach your goals more quickly.

  • Building fitness – in order to be healthy and good at other types of exercise, you need to improve the capacity of your heart and lungs. Just to maintain them, you should be engaging in activity that gets you out of breath for at least half an hour at least three times a week. Doing more on top of this will help you to build up your fitness. Good activities include running, cycling, and aerobics.
  • Building strength – in order to maintain the tone of your muscles, you should do at least two half-hour-long sessions of strength-building exercise every week. This could be lifting weights, using a rowing machine, or doing push-ups. Doing more will help you to improve your muscle, though not everybody puts on a lot of bulk – concentrate on your actual strength rather than your shape.
  • Building flexibility – to keep your body in good shape, avoid strains and stiffness, and improve your ability to do other kinds of exercise, you’ll need to work on keeping your joints flexible. You should stretch out your limbs and bend your back and neck gently backwards several times before you begin other exercise, gently rubbing your joints if they’re stiff. If you find this difficult from the start, activities such as yoga or martial arts can help.

Developing a routine

You will need to develop a routine that works for you. Don’t be overly ambitious at the start. Many people take on too much and then quickly give up. Work out how you can fit exercise into your existing schedule, and aim to begin at a level that will leave you feeling that you’ve done some hard work but won’t exhaust you. During the first two weeks, you can refine this so that you find the limits of what you’re comfortable with, and then you can start pushing against those limits and taking things a little further each time. This could mean spending more time on exercise, or it could mean speeding up your running or lifting slightly heavier weights. If you join a gym, you may be able to get personalized advice on when and how to go about this.

Getting the right gear

If you’re serious about exercise, getting the right gear can help you to undertake it more safely and effectively. Good running shoes, for instance, will cushion your feet and reduce the risk of ankle injuries. If you check out sites such as https://www.tommiecopper.com/women-s-recovery-compression-tights-2, you can find useful gear such as compression leggings that can help you get back to exercising sooner in the event of injury. Buying stylish new shoes and clothing will also make you feel good and can help you stay motivated as you adapt to your new routine.

Looking after yourself

Exercise is much more effective if you look after your general health, eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. You’ll also need to make sure that you get enough sleep, as this is when your body builds muscle. Effective exercise programs require pushing your boundaries and learning to push through pain, but some kinds of pain are still bad, so always do a light warm-up such as stretching and skipping before you begin, and the same after you finish, and take possible sprains or strains seriously. If you suffer an injury, you may be able to switch to a different kind of exercise to keep up your fitness until you recover.

When it’s going well, exercise should leave you feeling tired but refreshed and keenly alive. It’s easy to keep it going when it becomes something that you enjoy.