Exercising is good for you. We all know that. It helps you get, and stay active, improving your overall day-to-day fitness, helping you lose weight, and increasing the capacity of your heart and lungs. By exercising, you make your bodies work better and more efficiently, reducing your cholesterol levels and the risk of long-term health conditions.
But being fit and active is more than that. Exercising helps you look and feel better. It improves the way you sleep, focuses your mind, and reduces stress. It’s effective at fighting depression, and it’s a great way to get out and about meeting new people.
The best way to get fit and stay on track is to set yourself goals, so you’ve got a challenge to work towards. They can be small or big – whatever works best for you – from just losing a few pounds, to being able to walk up 10 flights of stairs. Just make sure any goal you have is SMART.
Be precise with your goal. Do you want to lose 5lbs? Run up the hill without stopping? Or swim 50 lengths?
How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Do you have a set amount or a set time to reach?
Is your goal reachable in the near future, even if it’s hard? Is there anything holding you back from success?
Be committed and break down big goals into smaller ones. Don’t try to complete a marathon if you can’t run a mile.
Put a time limit on your goal. Give yourself a fixed date, stick to it, and work hard to reach your goal by then.
Choose an exercise, sport or activity that interests you. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re getting active! Start with something moderate if you’re new to exercise.
Don’t do something that you hate, because you won’t stick to it.
Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 5 times a week as a minimum to stay healthy. Try activities like fast walking or cycling.
But don’t worry if you can’t achieve this yet. Just do what you can, a little bit each day. Even gentle exercise has a positive impact.
Always write down the SMART goals you’ve set for yourself. It will help you stick to them and encourage you to stay on track.
Your goals can be easy or hard, but you will need to work hard to achieve every one. But the results will be worth it when you reach them.
You can still exercise if you have a health condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart and lung problems, but you should always get advice from a doctor or qualified instructor before you start.
Speak to your GP for a referral to the Active Lifestyles Team, or see one of the qualified staff at a community leisure centre. They will discuss your health, and give you the advice and support you need to get active and exercise safely with any health conditions you might have.
You should be able to get active in one way or another, whatever your age or current fitness level. Gentle forms of exercise are suitable for almost everybody, and Salford’s Health Improvement Service runs specialist sessions to help you get started.
These include chair-based sessions, low impact workouts, Tai Chi, regular walks and indoor Kurling, which is similar to boules. Call 0800 952 1000 to find out more and join a session!