As a personal trainer, I have worked with people across the spectrum, from deconditioned individuals to competitive athletes, youth to seniors, as well as individuals in special-needs populations.
Technically speaking, the formula for exercise prescription is the same for all populations except that modifications should be made based on individual circumstances. Obviously, a competitive couch potato is not capable of doing the same workout as a competitive athlete. That said, there are some general rules of thumb that apply across the board.
- If you are over 40 or if you have any health issues, get a physical before starting a new exercise program.
- If you have a metabolic or blood sugar condition, check your sugar levels before, during, and after exercise – and, keep a record so you know your triggers for blood sugar changes so that you can deal with them safely and in a timely manner.
- Start where you are – choose a routine that is appropriate for your fitness level (don’t run a marathon if couch potato is your normal pace, start with a 5K instead!).
Be aware of your body at all times
- Learn the proper form for all of your exercises and check it relentlessly (you know, that is the reason gym walls are covered with mirrors).
- There is good pain (from muscle exhaustion) and there is bad pain (from inflammation of joints, tendons, previous injuries, back problems, etc), notice any discomfort during exercise – if the pain is from muscle exhaustion, that’s fine. If your discomfort is from anything else, you need to change something (your form, the entire exercise, your pace, etc).
Know that the real challenge is mental rather than physical
- Getting into the routine of exercising (or any new habit) is difficult. The biggest challenge, however, is not the activity itself but the mental chatter around it - pay attention to your thoughts! You can change them if you are aware of them. And, if you can change your thought patterns, you can change anything!!
Trust your intuition
- If your gut is telling you that something you are doing isn’t safe or something is off, do something else or ask for help from someone you trust. Or, call me!
Change things up
- Don’t do the same thing day after day, your body will not progress past the initial benefits of your routine.
- Boredom kills motivation - try different styles of exercise like cycling, yoga, zumba, boot camps, weight lifting, hiking, running, etc… when you find an exercise style that fits your sensibilities you will be much more likely to stick with it over time!
- Muscle confusion is a good thing. Changing up your exercise program regularly will help your body improve at a faster pace.
Proper nutrition will help you achieve the results you want
- If you eat healthy, you will feel better, have more energy, and look better.
- Your body will also have the building blocks it needs to convert energy into movement and to change the structure of your heart, lungs, bones, connective tissues, and muscles.
- If you sustain any injuries, you will heal faster.
- If you want to know what a day of healthy eating looks like, read last week’s post here.
Don’t forget, we are amping up for a healthy lifestyle initiative for the new year. I will be providing nutrition and fitness guidance for any/all who wish to join. This will include tips for meal planning, healthy recipes, and exercise planning and incentives. We will also discuss as a group the challenges we encounter and present strategies for overcoming these challenges. If you are interested in participating, click here.
Thanks for reading this post. Catch you next week.
Yours in health and well-being,