It’s been a long 13 months of lockdown comfort eating and gym restrictions, but for most of the UK and Ireland now we’re starting to see those restrictions ease, and we’re hearing that people are looking to get back into shape for the summer!
While you may be raring to go on your fitness journey, it’s important to remember that slow and steady wins the race. Diving straight in at the deep-end could do more harm than good, not only for your body physically but also for your confidence – there’s nothing worse than trying to run a mile, getting halfway through, feeling that it’s too painful or difficult, and giving up before you’ve even really begun.
That’s why our blog today is all about those small steps you can take to get started and fit your fitness in wherever you can!
How much exercise do I need?
According to the NHS, you want to hit a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. This can be spread across the week in little pockets of time if you need to, although you’ll see more benefits if you can block out regular longer sessions (20-30 minutes at a time). The NHS also recommends that we do two strength training sessions per week – there’s no time requirement for this, though as a guide a strength training session may take around 20 minutes.
The best part: any kind of activity you enjoy is good for you, so long as it elevates your heart rate and gets you a little out of breath. If you hate running, try dancing. If you hate yoga, try tennis. There’s so much to try!
If you’re just starting out (or starting back up after a long break) nobody’s expecting you to run a 10K straight off the mark! Fitness is a game of endurance and building stamina overtime, so it’s okay to start with what you can manage and work your way up.
If you’re totally new to fitness, why not try walking before you can run? Getting out for half an hour’s brisk walk a day is so underestimated, but it can really ramp up your fitness, to the point where eventually even walking very quickly won’t leave you out of breath anymore. That’s how you know you can progress to jogging, running and so on.
People can sometimes forget that strength training forms an incredibly important part of fitness. Women in particular might avoid it for fear of ‘bulking up’, but that’s actually very difficult to achieve, so don’t worrying about that unless it’s the look you’re striving for (in which case you’ll need a more detailed, intensive plan to follow). Instead, strength training and flexibility exercises will help you to build your muscles and result in a firmer, more toned appearance, as well as improving your balance and reducing joint pain. You don’t even need fancy equipment to get started – if you don’t want to pay out for a gym membership or your own dumbbells, you can use your own body weight for most exercises. We’ve even got some ideas for you on our video playlist here.
Sort your schedule
We know that life can be hectic. Between work, side hustles, families to take care of, a social life to manage and the desire to sit down to binge the latest Netflix show, it can be difficult to figure out where to fit your exercise in.
The good news is this: you can fit your 150 minutes in any way that you choose.
There are more benefits to doing a longer session all at once (say 20-30 minutes per day), but if you have to squeeze in ten minutes between the school run and starting work, or even 5 minutes while the kettle boils, you’re still doing your body a world of good!
Try these hacks to bulk up your daily activity:
- Go for a walk on your lunch break
- Walk to the supermarket instead of driving
- Use an exercise bike or do some squats while watching your favourite TV show
- Schedule in 15 minutes a day of active play with the kids
- Wake up 20 minutes earlier than your family to fit in a short yoga session
- If you have a job that requires you to be on the phone a lot, stand up and walk around while you’re chatting away!
- Got housework to do? Turn it into a workout! Blast the music and work up a sweat while you scrub away!
Fuel up properly
Exercise is only one part of the equation. We all know that nutrition plays a key role, too, not only in making you feel well generally, but also in helping to fuel you through your workouts. Ensure you’re eating a well-balanced diet which includes 50% fruit or veggies, 25% protein and 25% carbohydrates on each plate, and a roughly 80/20 split of healthy foods and your favourites (because allowing yourself to eat everything in moderation will keep you from going crazy!).
You can also try Forever Lite Ultra, a nutritious protein shake, ideal for breakfast or as a workout snack. This versatile product can be used if you’re watching your calorie intake, or as a filling protein snack if you’re trying to gain weight, as it contains 24g protein per serving. You can even add different fruits or veggies to it to mix up the flavour and consume a full range of nutrients easily.
So those are some useful tips on how to get started on a fitness journey! Let us know in the comments how you plan to start yours!