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The do’s and don’ts when starting an exercise program

There can be so much mixed information when it comes to starting and exercise program. However, in essence, the main advice is just to start (unless you have medical reasons not to) and continue to do a variety of exercise activities regularly.

There are some basic do’s and don’ts, but unless you are exercising for performance or to achieve a specific physique the strategies for exercise are relatively simple.

Do warm up before exercise, especially if it is high intensity or involves heavy weights. A warm up reduces your risk of injury. Stretching afterwards is beneficial also.

Don’t start a heavy and intense exercise program if you’re not conditioned to exercise. Start out slowly and build up your fitness and strength.

Do a variety of cardiovascular, strengthening and flexibility exercises over the week. Don’t just do one modality unless there is a medical reason to do so.

You don’t need a gym membership to achieve overall health and fitness. A gym can be beneficial, but not essential.

Do activities that you enjoy as you are more likely to continue if you enjoy the exercise. Join a team sport, engage the family, find an accountability partner, add variety.

Don’t allow the body to plateau and not increase the intensity or load once the body is conditioned. Improved fitness and strength comes from incremental overload of the exercise intensity and gradual load on the muscles over time.

Do enlist the help of a professional if you are unsure of how to perform exercises or unsure how to start. For medical conditions it is best to seek the advice of an accredited exercise physiologist.

Don’t try and out do your friend, buddy, work colleague, over sized guy in gym etc, this can lead to injury. Go at your own pace.

You don’t need the latest outfits to get started or best brand labelled active wear. You will still perform adequately in whatever you have. Just start. Although quality shoes can be highly beneficial and, for women, a decent sports bra may aid comfort.

Do ensure you stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after exercise sessions. If you’re sweating significantly or training for a long period of time, electrolytes may be of benefit.

Don’t exercise in extreme weather conditions unless you are accustomed to it. Pick better times of the day when temperatures or conditions are not excessive.

Do stay consistent as this is the key to better health. Even if you are not feeling like exercise, just do a little bit. It is better than none at all.

In summary, slowly build up your fitness and strength, have fun, move regularly and continue to do this most days of the week.

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