With the arrival of warmer weather and summer holidays, many people seek to begin or resume physical activity. However, in order to do so safely and in the right way, you should avoid some common mistakes. Improvising the duration and pace of your activity, hoping to achieve immediate results, devising a diet on your own, thinking every kind of physical activity is suitable for you.
Here are the tips to start exercising safely, by Professor Daniela Lucini, Supervisor of the Exercise Medicine and Functional Diseases Section at Humanitas.
Ask a specialised doctor for a full check-up
Regardless of your state of health, you should go to a practitioner before starting any physical activity (going to the gym, enrolling in a sport course, running, walking), in order to find out the best activity for your state of health, your needs and your lifestyle. Your physician will then prescribe the most appropriate physical activity, keeping into consideration both your desires (for example, losing weight) and your overall physical conditions. They will do a medical examination and some tests to get the most out of the prescription.
Schedule your physical activity
You don’t need a detailed, perfectly structured training schedule. You definitely need to know which kind of physical activity to do and how to start it, keeping your starting and ending points into consideration. This is important both for people who suffer from particular conditions and for healthy people, in order to avoid injuries. For example, a long-time runner who stopped for some years may be still fit, but maybe their knees and tendons are too weak for unsupervised training. It is important to go to a practitioner, that will assess your current state of health and suggest the right steps to undertake before starting any physical activity.
A gradual approach is key
Only your mind needs to be boosted. In fact, talking physically, you need to proceed gradually. You should start with light exercises, making them progressively harder, according to your practitioner’s advice. A gradual approach also makes injuries less likely.
Physical activity is linked with nutrition
Physical activity and nutrition are undeniably linked. You may not eat anything you want, in any quantity, just because you are exercising. Doing sports doesn’t require a strict diet. You don’t need supplements in order to engage in physical activity. Instead, you have to eat healthy and in a balanced way, preferring seasonal vegetables, white meat, fish, whole grains and fruit.
Proper clothes and shoes
Proper clothes and shoes are paramount to practice any physical activity. You should also pay attention to the places and the time you choose to exercise, especially if you engage in outdoor physical activity. It is better to avoid running or walking alone in isolated or badly lit places.
What can you expect?
Your expectations should be consistent with your schedule. This is why it is important to have a practitioner prescribe the right activity for your goal. If you want to lose weight, two water aerobics classes per week are not enough. In the same way, if you suffer from back pains and need to strengthen your back muscles, you definitely should not run.
It takes time
You can’t expect immediate results: patience and follow-through are most important, and your body needs time to adjust to the changes. However, the feeling of well-being changes rapidly, because physical activity makes you feel good from the start.
It’s a matter of lifestyle
You should not just exercise in view of a particular goal, for example losing weight before going to the beach for your summer holidays. This may be a starting point, a spur to begin exercising, but you need an overall change in your lifestyle. Eating healthy, exercising constantly and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle are good, life-long habits.