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Getting the New Year off to the healthiest start

Posted on December 15th, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions are great motivators to get fit and healthy, but remember to look after your body to prevent injury – it’s no coincidence that January and February is a busy time for physiotherapists!

So here are some of our tips to get in shape, stay injury-free, and remain motivated through 2011.

The main problem is that on January 1st (well more like the 2nd!), we have a surge of energy and decide to do some exercise. It’s only when we get back that we realise it was the first time we’d done that for weeks, months – and yes sometimes even years.

What happens is our body isn’t prepared and that really does increase the chance of injury.

 The Basics

The main advice is to start slowly and don’t do too much too soon.

Too many people suddenly decide they have to get fit and lose weight, but they forget that it is a long process which takes months. The worst thing they can do is to suddenly increase the amount of exercise they are doing.

The best type of exercises are low impact ones like swimming, walking, cross training and cycling.

Ideally, pop in to see our physiotherapy staff and we can give you an “MOT” and ensure that you have a proper exercise plan tailored uniquely to your body. We’ll look at your stance, build, previous and current injuries as well as your lifestyle to make sure you get the most out of what you put in.

The best way for your New Year’s Resolutions to continue throughout the year is to enjoy the exercise to start with.

Low cost solutions

Walking is one of the easiest and low cost exercises that can be done anywhere. It is also a great way to build into more vigorous forms of exercise such as running (which is of course also low cost).

Quick exercises for busy people

Even a little bit of exercise is better than nothing. Many people get hung up about having to do a certain amount and end up going for days or weeks without doing anything because they don’t have time for a ‘decent’ workout.

However, just trying to do a little bit every day, no matter how small, will all add up and of course it’s much better for you than sitting on the couch.

Running, cycling, swimming and walking are all exercises that you can do when short on time (running and walking in particular can be done anywhere and don’t need to take up a lot of time).

Exercises that are good for burning calories

You really need to raise your Heart Rate to burn calories – so exercises such as: running, cycling, swimming and machines at the gym like the cross trainer are excellent ways of raising your heart rate and burning calories.

If you do have any heart problems or concerns speak to your GP before taking on strenuous exercise.

What’s the most important piece of kit?

For walking and running, you need to get the best pair of trainers for you. That doesn’t mean rushing out and buying the most expensive you can afford. It means making sure you have the right fit for your feet.

A common reason for giving up on exercise is poorly knees and feet.

Trainers are mass produced to be the same, but people are unique in the way they stand and the way they move. This is why it’s highly advisable to visit a podiatrist if you’re intending to do a lot of exercise.

You’ll be amazed at the difference a well fitted pair of trainers can make.

Healthy eating tips

  • Everything should be in moderation.
  • Try to stick to the 5-a-day principle of eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables.
  • Decrease the amount of fried foods, bakes goods, pastries and sweet foods – yes it’s tough.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water everyday – this also makes you feel full
  • Remember it’s “calories in” versus “calories out” that determines whether we lose weight or gain weight.

If you want a snack then try and limit it to: fruit; dried fruit; mixed nuts; a home made smoothie with no added sugar; peanut butter on crispbreads; avocado on wholemeal toast.

For more advice, speak to a dietician.

Motivation

We’ve left this right until the end, mainly to see if you were motivated enough to get through the other tips! But motivation is very important, so try and set yourself short, medium and long term aims.

This way you can keep meeting achievable targets and you know you’re making headway.

 We keep saying it, but start slowly and build up your exercise regime – too much too early is very difficult to maintain.

In terms of healthy eating stay focused, allow yourself a day a week where you don’t worry about your diet – that way you’ll stay focused the rest of the week.

Remember that everything works in unison: the exercise will make you feel better, which will make you want to eat more healthy food, which in turn will make you want to exercise more.

Good luck and if you need any help, advice or a little bit of extra motivation, get in touch.

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