What the fitness experts want you to know…

It’s time for me-time this month, and here’s some sound expert advice to help get you moving for better health and fitness.

Sometimes, becoming fit and healthy is easier said than done – and for many, seems like an insurmountable challenge in their life. According to the World Health Organization, obesity has more than doubled since 1980 and in 2014, more than 1.9-billion adults were overweight. One of the best ways to avoid becoming a statistic is prioritise your health and wellness, which encompasses better nutrition, more movement and improving your fitness levels. Charlene Yared-West speaks to the experts to find out more about what you should and shouldn’t be doing to get fit – and stay fit. 

Just move!

Movement can happen in the gym or it can be tickle fights, sex, a walk on the beach, playing sport and anything that gets you moving, explains Dr Greg Venning, author and chiropractor at Peak Chiropractic in Cape Town  (capetownchiro.com). “Fitness has at least ten different components to it and human beings do best when they have competence in each of these ten. They are; strength, speed, endurance, stamina, power, accuracy, mobility, co-ordination, balance and agility,” he says. “How each person archives these is going to be personalised, as there is no single path to fitness. Find the things you love and approach them playfully and practice them for mastery. That will accelerate your short-term results as well and give you long-term staying power.” Adele Pudney, physiotherapist from ADK Physio & Hydrotherapy (wellspringcentre.co.za) agrees. “You must learn to love yourself and the movement you’re doing to be successful in maintaining your exercise goals. Be kind to yourself and reward yourself for small improvements,” she says. “See it as a journey; there will be times of great enthusiasm and other moments of total disinterest – and have ways to cope with both ends of the spectrum.” 

Movement for health

“Quit exercise. Workouts suck. Practice and play with movement and rediscover the joy in it,” says Dr Venning. He recommends moving for at least five minutes a day, which, as you start to enjoy the movement, will expand over time. “You require three types of movement for health; move moderately everyday, move heavy things one to three times a week and move fast, one to two times a week. Avoid long, repetitive cardio workouts, they aren’t as good for you as you think,” says Dr Venning. Zeno Rossouw, physiotherapist based at Life Orthopaedic Hospital at Vincent Pallotti agrees and points out that 30 minutes of daily exercise can reduce both weight and BMI almost as much as a 60 minute workout. “Be time efficient and rethink the value of a warm up. It is crucial to prepare your muscles for the activity they are about to endure,” he says. “It also helps to choose an exercise that will keep your mind guessing, like cross training. Each new and different workout can target different muscle groups, which reduce the risk of injury, boost energy levels and keep boredom at bay.” Dr Venning adds that a short duration (less than 20 minutes) of high intensity intermittent training can help you to get all the benefits of cardio in a fraction of the time. “Avoid moving weights around if you can’t move your own body weight around well. Start small and do something you enjoy doing,” he says. 

Are there shortcuts to fitness freedom?

The experts concur: there is no easy way – and no shortcuts, but you can still have fun anyway!Liesl Way, physiotherapist at Life Westville Hospital says that consistency and discipline are key in the beginning of your path to fitness. “Start with simple activities that you enjoy and realise that fitness is built over time – and not overnight, so don’t binge exercise. Doing so will make you lose your motivation and possibly cause injury – and you will feel awful (physically and emotionally) if you exercise beyond your current fitness level,” she says. Exercise creates opportunity to meet new people, it leads to a sense of well being, can combat feelings of depression, increases energy levels, can reduce insomnia and can be a very enjoyable part of your day, adds Liesl. 

<SIDEBAR> What you should be avoiding on your journey to fitness?Having a cheat meal after a good workout.Procrastinating when to start your routine.Focusing on the end goal. It becomes overwhelming and prevents us from moving forward.Making excuses as to why you shouldn’t workout.Setting unrealistic goals and time frames.Continuing with an unhealthy diet. A balanced, healthy diet is important for joint and muscle health.Starving yourself in an attempt to speed up the weight loss.Ignoring the value of adequate rest and stretching before and after exercise.
<SIDEBAR> Top tips for getting fitStart small and make steady daily improvements.Use positive and realistic affirmations and pictures to motivate yourself.Take part in outdoor exercise … Fresh air, scenery like a trail run or mountainbiking can boost your energy levels.Tracking your activity is also a very useful exercise, whether it’s a fitness diary or a high-tech app on your smartphone.Grab a workout partner, but also someone that will challenge you and thereby increase how long and hard you workout.Enlisting the help of a personal trainer could help to motivate you. They can supervise and ensure that your technique is flawless preventing injuries and ensuring good results.Nutrition has a major role to play, as people have heard that the six pack is made in the kitchen and not at the gym. People should consider keeping a food diary to track how certain meals impact their performance.Sleep is also a vital aspect of a healthy balanced lifestyle. Ensuring that we have between 6-8 hours will also help boost our fitness levels. A post workout cool down can leave the individual with the notion that the workout wasn’t as tough as they originally expected. A better mindset for getting back to the gym the next day. Performing static stretches whereby a 20-30 second hold is best.Love yourself enough to take care of yourself.

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