I see a lot of patients every day with pain, and so often their story goes... I used to go to the gym regularly, but about 3 months ago I stopped’, or ‘I just don’t have time for exercise’, or ‘I hate going to the gym because it’s boring’. My point is though, that those people are in pain for a reason: they’re weak, they’re unfit, they’re often overweight and they probably haven’t taken a deep breath in MONTHS (yes, breathing deeply is a massive help for every system in your body!).
Now those of you that know me, know that I go to the gym 5 days a week. I get up first thing, get it done, and I feel really good the rest of the day. I’m certainly not shouting ‘whoop whoop’ as I’m doing it, as a lot of the training I do is really tough! But I do know that it’s good for me. We all have to do things we don’t enjoy, I don’t particularly love brushing my teeth, I certainly hate drying my hair for half an hour every day, but it’s just something that has to be done: the non-negotiable parts of your day. And why should exercise be any different?? It’s something that each of us should strive to include in our every day. 30 minutes a day is all you have to do. 30 minutes of something that makes you a bit out of breath, preferably uses your legs (as these are the biggest muscles so they pump the most blood around your body) and is easily repeatable (so don’t choose sky-diving as your 30 minutes of exercise!). For every day that you don’t exercise it does the equivalent damage of smoking 3.5 cigarettes a day!!! Low fitness kills more people than smoking, diabetes and obesity put together. Have a look at this blog from Karim Khan, the editor of the British Journal of Sports Medicine...
Suggestions for moving forward:
1) Get a monitoring tool: this can be as simple as a diary that you write in every day to note that you have done 30 minutes of exercise every day. I use a heart rate monitor which literally shouts at me if I don’t do enough exercise each week (it sets me a programme based on my fitness goals). Another thing you could use is a pedometer to count your steps... 10 000 steps a day is all that you need.
2) Set aside a time of day that you can exercise, non-negotiable every day. I do this first thing in the morning so that it’s done, I can shower afterwards (and don’t have to shower and dry my hair twice in the day... girly I know!) and then it’s not hanging over me, and it doesn’t interfere with my social life in the evening. A lot of people hate getting up early, so that’s no problem, do it at lunchtime or at the end of the day. Guilt is my main motivator, get some guilt in you!!
3) Try find something you like doing. I would love to be able to go out on a bicycle every morning instead of sit in the gym and cycle, but city traffic and being a bit scared to go out on my own restricts this, hence I hit the gym. I do go to salsa dancing classes which I love, and at the weekends instead of hitting the gym I try to go for a nice long walk.
4) Find someone to exercise with. Someone else dragging you along always helps. Alternatively get a dog! They’ll nag you off the couch!!
5) Train with music. Your favourite tunes will help motivate you and will make it more fun. iTunes/ Spotifiy/ Deezer do some good playlists for workouts as well as some of your favourite workout magazine. I have taken to listening to books on my iPod as I don’t have enough time to read. That is a great distraction as I get lost in the story.
6) Reward yourself if you do get through each week of 30 minutes. Try not to let this just be food or drink. Rather treat yourself to a massage, or a new outfit if you’ve lost weight.
7) There are some great apps out there for your smart phone with excellent training programmes. There are also some really interesting websites with oodles of advice. Good ones for girls are http://www.womenshealthmag.com and http://www.shape.corn and for blokes there is http://www.menshealth.co.uk/ or http://www.mensfitness.com/. There are also apps that track your distance like the Nike running application. I’m sure the real techies can suggest some more.
8) Fitness magazines can be really inspiring too. They give you different programmes for every month, good nutrition advice and even some healthy recipes. I ‘like’ a lot of motivational pages on facebook like https://www.facebook.com/TrainerThoughtOfTheDay and https://www.facebook.com/FitnessMotivationDietTraining, If you’re a twitterer, @exerciseworks, @Women_Fit. There are loads out there, and if you follow me on www.facebook.com/thesportingjoint or @sportingjoint I tend to repost/ retweet all the good ones!
Don’t underestimate the effect that regular exercise will have on your aches and pains It can be truly profound just getting a bit of overall increased strength and fitness