Many people use the new year to kick-off long term goals to be and do better. Often, our New Year’s resolutions have to do with health and fitness.
Many studies have shown that New Year’s resolutions tend not to stick when they are too big of an adjustment, so the first tip we wanted to share is to start small. If you’re not used to going to the gym every second day, you’re not likely to start doing it just because the data has changed! But that doesn’t mean you can’t make this the year to get fit and healthy. Here’s what you need to know about how to make real, lasting, healthy changes in your life.
Sometimes, the reason our plans to get healthy don’t work out is because we overestimate how fit we are starting out. If you haven’t been exercising regularly for a while, or you are a self-confessed binge-watching couch potato, you probably won’t be able to run a mile the first time you try. However, you could probably manage a brisk walk around the block – and are more likely to do that every day than try to run a mile!
So, before you get started on making 2022 your personal year of healthier living, take stock of what you’re capable of, and plan accordingly.
Most doctors are only too happy when their patients want to get healthier. However, depending on your individual health situation, your doctor may have some tips or concerns to discuss with you.
Before you embark on any major changes to your diet or exercise routine, it’s always a good idea to visit your doctor. They might want to check a few important health metrics during the visit and could give you advice about what you should or should not be doing.
While you are working on your fitness, pay attention to any new or worsening pain too. A little strain is normal when you exercise, but if you are experiencing a lot of pain, that’s a sign something is wrong, and it’s time to visit the doctor again.
Working out in the gym for two hours twice a month won’t do much for your fitness levels (and could lead to injuries.)
One of the most important things you can do when you commit to getting fit is to aim for consistency. Even if you only do twenty minutes of exercise a day, you will start seeing more benefits faster than trying to go all in and only doing it occasionally.
So, figure out how much time you can commit to getting fit every day or even every second day, and then make sure you build it into your schedule. Even if your daily workout is to walk to the train station instead of driving, and back again, its movement, and it counts!
One of the best ways to motivate yourself to stay the course on your fitness plans is to find someone to go on the journey with you. You could ask a friend who already has an active lifestyle if you can tag along with them (but they might be a little too fit for you at first!) or you can ask someone who is at a similar fitness level to you.
When we have someone, we’re accountable to, we’re far more likely to get moving – even when we don’t want to. Plus, it’s a lot more fun to get fit when you have someone to chat to while you’re walking, running, biking, or doing a fitness video.
Back in the 1980s, all fitness videos were ladies in leotards doing high energy aerobics. That was great for our hearts and for weight loss, but we’ve since learned that strength training is just as important as cardio. In fact, it’s been proven that strength training not only increases your basal metabolic rate, it’s also significant in improving and maintaining bone density.
So, make sure that whatever you are planning to do includes workouts that work your muscles as well as getting your heart rate up.
If it’s been years since you put on running shoes and worked up a sweat, you should probably take it easy for a little while, just until you’re not completely breathless right away!
However, once you’ve started to find that your easy “beginners” workout is getting easy, it’s a good idea to try HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. This is a type of workout that alternates regular, easier activity with periods of really pushing yourself.
So, you might go for a long walk, and then every five minutes, go from a brisk walk to a fast jog for a minute. Go back to the easier brisk walk for another five minutes, and then push yourself to run again. This kind of interval training can supercharge your usual workout and help you to get results faster.
If you hate the type of exercise you are doing, you’re going to do everything possible to avoid it.
There are some people that love the gym and can’t wait to be on a treadmill. There are other people who would rather do pretty much anything else. If you’re one of the latter, don’t go to the gym. Instead, find something you really love doing.
Exercise doesn’t always mean formal training in a gym. You could try salsa dancing, take up rollerblading or start taking karate classes. If it gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat, it’s exercise and it counts. You’re just more likely to do it if you actually enjoy it. In fact, you might even find that it makes you look forward to exercise!
You might not find exercise options you like right away. So, keep an open mind, and try a few things you might like. You’re sure to find something that you love and that gets you moving.
Trying to run in shoes that aren’t made for running will give you sore feet and make running an unpleasant experience. Doing workout videos in the wrong clothes will be uncomfortable and unpleasant. You could even find that you get chafed in certain places, which will not only make this workout unpleasant, but it will also give you lasting pain.
It’s important to get the right kind of gear before you start working out. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive thing on the market, and if you need specific gear, you could even buy some of it second hand to save a little extra money. However, you will be safer, healthier, and much more inclined to continue to exercise if you’re comfortable while you’re doing it!
Most of us focus on working out when we want to get healthy, but it’s as much about what you do as what you eat. If your diet is full of processed foods and unhealthy choices, make 2022 the year you make better choices.
Opt for plant-based meals a few times a week. They taste great, are often naturally lower in fat, and have much more healthy fibre in them. You can also make water a bigger part of your day. Mark a water bottle with lines for each hour, and make sure you drink that portion every hour.
If your diet is heavy in processed foods, commit to shopping more from the outside of the supermarket. That’s where the fresh foods are and eating more of them will automatically improve your diet.
As an orthopaedic medicine practice, we see a lot of sports injuries.
While you are working on your fitness, be sure to pay attention to your joints. Knees, elbows, wrists, and ankles can all be injured quite badly if you don’t work out carefully.
If you are prone to these kinds of injuries, you might want to choose activities that are lower impact, like swimming instead of jogging. The last thing you want to do is start getting fit and then have to take months off while you wait for serious joint injuries to heal!
If you have any pre-existing injuries or sustain an injury during exercise our consultants at London Bridge Orthopaedics are here to help, and have extensive knowledge and experience in treating all musculoskeletal conditions.
The last tip we have for you as you make 2022 your year of getting healthy is not to give up.
Even if you start small. Even if you can only fit twenty minutes per day into your schedule. It might take a little longer to see the results you want, but every step you take is one step closer.
Getting fitter and healthier is the best gift you can give yourself. You will look better, feel better and, according to research, live longer.
So, whether you run, bike, hike or boogie up a storm, getting out there and getting moving is the best thing you can do for yourself this year. Go get fit!
We cover all the subspecialty areas of orthopaedics
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