With the arrival of summer and also in view of the summer holidays, there are those who want to start or resume physical activity. To do this in a serious and above all safe way, we must avoid some common mistakes: from improvising the timing and rhythm of the activity to thinking about getting immediate results, from starting to eat independently to believing that any activity is good for itself.
Here is the advice of Professor Daniela Lucini, Head of the Section for Exercise Medicine and Functional Pathologies at Humanitas.
Perform a check with a specialist doctor
Regardless of your health, before you start physical activity (in the gym, attending a course, running, walking), it is essential to consult a specialist in order to identify the best activities for your health, your needs and your lifestyle. The specialist will then prescribe the most appropriate exercise, taking into account the goal of the patient (for example, I want to lose a few pounds), but also the patient’s general condition. To do so, they will perform observations and tests, so that they can prescribe exercises in such a way as to obtain the maximum possible benefits.
Have a well-planned program
This does not mean having a detailed and perfectly structured training card, but knowing what type of activity to do and how to do it from your current physical state, taking into account the goal you have set. This is important not only for those with special medical needs, but also for people who are well off, to avoid the risk of accidents. Take the case of a subject who has been involved in running for a long time and then stopped for a few years; physically fit, he may still have the breath and resistance to run, but perhaps his knees and tendons may feel the effects of uncontrolled training. That is why it is important to talk to a specialist who – in the light of the state of health – will suggest the steps to be taken to resume sports activities.
Gradual is the key word
It’s very promising to start with good intentions and the will to act, but the start must be mental first. At the physical level, in fact, we need gradual action. The initial intensity should be slight, but then increase according to the specialist’s instructions. A gradual approach also eliminates the risk of accidents.
Physical activity is linked to diet
Whatever the objective, the link between physical activity and nutrition is essential. Three of the most common mistakes must be avoided: thinking that by doing sport you can eat what you want and how much you want; thinking that doing sport requires an unhealthy diet; thinking that doing sport must be reincorporated with specific products. Instead, we need to eat in a healthy and balanced way, with priority given to seasonal vegetables, white meat and fish, whole grains and fruit.
Suitable clothing and shoes
Suitable clothing and shoes are essential for any physical activity, even simply to go for a quick walk. We must also pay attention to where we train and when, especially for those who exercise outdoors. It is better to avoid running or walking alone in isolated or poorly lit places.
What expectations should I have?
Your expectations must be consistent with the program you follow, which is why it is important that the prescription of the exercise is done by a specialist with respect to the patients’ goal. If I want to lose weight, it will not be enough to do two aqua-gym lessons per week; as well as if I suffer from back pain and I need to work on the lumbar muscles, running is not at all indicated.
Remember that it takes time
We cannot expect immediate results, with patience and consistency the results will come, but our body needs time to adapt to the changes. What changes quickly is the state of well-being, physical activity makes you feel good right from the start.
It is not enough to be physically active in terms of a particular objective, such as “losing weight before holidays at the sea”. That may be a starting point, along with the spring that induces the desire to move, but the change must relate to the lifestyle more generally. Eating well, moving regularly and combating sedentariness must become good habits for life.