Selecting the right type of exercise programme to achieve your goals – a Physiotherapist’s perspective
Taking part in regular exercise is an important part of leading a happy, healthy lifestyle. It has been shown to improve muscle tone, promote good posture, aid weight loss, restore flexibility, improve heart and lung function, improve mental well-being and aid recovery from injury. With so many benefits you can’t ignore the importance of doing some form of exercise, but with so many activities to choose from it can seem overwhelming at first. So what is the right type of exercise for you and how often should you be exercising? There are a few key factors which will help you to make this decision.
Firstly, think about what type of exercise you enjoy doing. You are more likely to stick to a new programme if you look forward to going. Do you prefer exercising on your own, as part of a class or in a team? This will help you decide whether joining a gym, an exercise class or a sports team would be best for you. All forms of exercise have been shown to improve mental health due to the release of Endorphins, which are the body’s “feel-good” hormone, but exercising with other people also provides a social opportunity.
Secondly think about what you want to achieve from exercise. If you are looking to reduce body fat then doing some cardiovascular exercise to burn calories is important but add some body-weight or resistance exercise as this has been shown to improve muscle function and has been shown to reduce the risk of over-use injuries. If you are looking to improve posture, then exercise which focus on strengthening the core should be included. There are lots of choices when it comes to classes, some of which are focussed on cardiovascular fitness such as step aerobics, body combat or Zumba and some focus more on your core muscles and stretching such as Yoga or Pilates.
If you are starting a new exercise programme my key piece of advice is to start slowly and gradually build up your exercise levels. If you have been fairly inactive then start by going for a 30 minute brisk walk 3 times per week alongside some gentle stretches. Starting a high intensity class or heavy weight training programme 5 times per week when your body simply isn’t used to any form of exercise is ultimately going to lead to injury! Also give yourself sufficient rest time for your body to recover from high-impact or strenuous exercise before loading it again. It is recommended that you give your body 2 days recovery time after intensive exercise before doing a similar type of activity. At first you may need to give yourself an extra day to recover until your body is more efficient at recovering from exercise.
Finally, don’t give up on exercise if you have an injury. Due to the physical benefits of exercise it should be used to help the body recover from injury rather than be avoided. Physiotherapists are trained to diagnose your injury and to identify the underlying problems that may have contributed to it including; muscle tightness, joint stiffness, muscle imbalance, poor stability, running style and so on. As well as treating the injured area to accelerate tissue repair, a Physiotherapist will prescribe a specific structured exercise programme that you can do at home or in the gym. They will also advise on what other types of exercise are safe to do whilst the injury is still healing. Also please note that if you have any medical conditions please remember to always consult with your GP or Physiotherapist first before starting any new form of exercise.
So here’s to a happy, healthy 2017! If you would like any further information or advice about anything that was featured in this blog please contact Metro Physio and ask to speak to one of the Physiotherapy team.
Blog by Nicola Lomax – Chartered Physiotherapist at Metro PhysioLeave a reply →