Starting out with exercise

If you are starting out with exercise or are beginning after an injury, illness or flare up, our advice is start low, make it slow and keep it short. For example if you start with a 15 minute walk – doubling it to do 30 next time is too much – 20 would be more appropriate. By building up the intensity and duration in small increments you will be much less likely to experience pain and discomfort.

 

Start low – by this we mean the weight or loading that you use. If you are using weights start with something that after 10-12 reps is beginning to feel challenging but not impossible.

Make it slow –perform your exercises or stretches slowly and with control to ensure your technique is correct.

Keep it short – this is the activity duration whether it is taking a walk a swim or lifting weights. Start with a time that does not leave you overly fatigued – and build up by no more than 10-20% a time.

Keep a record. This is invaluable to track progress, see patterns that you can learn from and provide you with motivation when you see how you have improved over time.

Everyone will have a different exercise programme as demonstrated by the four examples that follow:

George is 57 and has osteoarthritis. This is what his exercise schedule looks like…

“I walk 25 mins every day – with the dog – and sometimes the wife. I try to go at a good clip and up a couple of hills to get my heart rate up. [CARDIO]

Twice I week I go to the local gym – I have a programme there written by the instructor which I get updated every 6-8 weeks – I do different exercises using the machines and free weights. I’ll also do a bit of rowing on the machine which I enjoy and it gets me sweating nicely! [RESISTANCE/BALANCE]

The wife and I have a little routine of mobility exercises for our hands and wrists that we do once in the morning and often at night as well while watching TV. It only takes 10 minutes. [MOBILITY]”

Mick is 63 and has had rheumatoid arthritis for over 20 years.

“I cycle to work 5 days a week. It is 20 minutes one way and if I am feeling good I work quite hard to get a sweat up. Luckily there is a shower at work if I need it! If I am having a flare up I will catch the bus which is a 5 minute walk away. [CARDIO]

I like to go swimming at the weekend also. [CARDIO]

2-3 times a week my friend and I go to a local yoga class. Sometimes I don’t feel like going but I always feel better afterwards and I can work at my own pace. I have noticed my balance has improved and my leg strength is better since I have taken this up. [RESISTANCE/BALANCE]”

Jenny is 40 and has fibromyalgia. This is what her exercise schedule looks like…

“I cycle to work 5 days a week. It is 20 minutes one way and if I am feeling good I work quite hard to get a sweat up. Luckily there is a shower at work if I need it! If I am having a flare up I will catch the bus which is a 5 minute walk away. [CARDIO]

I like to go swimming at the weekend also. [CARDIO]

2-3 times a week my friend and I go to a local yoga class. Sometimes I don’t feel like going but I always feel better afterwards and I can work at my own pace. I have noticed my balance has improved and my leg strength is better since I have taken this up. [RESISTANCE/BALANCE]

Avril is 77. She had a knee replacement 3 years ago due to osteoarthritis and also has rheumatoid arthritis

“I used to walk a lot but find that aggravates my knee (the other one needs doing!) so my son got me a stationary bike and I pedal on that at least every 2nd day for 30 minutes. [CARDIO] This gets my heart rate up but also keeps my knee joints healthy. I have the radio on and that helps pass the time no problem.

Once a week I go to a local ‘Stronger for Longer’ class – we do a great variety of things – balance, brain training and resistance work with bands. The music is good and I have met some new friends there. [RESISTANCE/BALANCE]

I have some mobility exercises to do that my physio gave me and I do those and 4 simple band exercises every day. [MOBILITY/RESISTANCE]”

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