David Gillick: Take responsibility for your health, set a goal and plan to get fit
Taking up exercise for the first time can be challenging. Not knowing what to do and how often to do it, followed by what to be eating and not eating can be confusing, unsustainable and boring.
Whatever activity you decide to take up , it has to be fun and rewarding. It also has to start with a personal goal and that can be anything. For example, obtaining a certain weight, running/walking a distance in a certain time or just running the distance are common goals. Other people might simply aim to get fit for the sole reason of improving their overall health and wellbeing. This reason is great but having a clear goal will help you maintain an exercise routine, giving you motivation and a focus.
Every January, we hear of people who say "I want to get fit", by February their new year's resolution is forgotten. No goal, no result.
Reaching your goal results is that amazing feeling of euphoria, self-fulfilment and self-confidence which can spread into so many aspects of your life.
You have to start with a target, it has to be measurable, and when you reach it, reevaluate and set a new goal.
A measurable goal is like a target, so for example you want to run a certain time over 5km in five months or hit a set weight in 12 months.
An anagram to explain a measurable goal, and one which may help you set you goals, is SMART:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable/Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Time orientated
If you are comfortable participating by yourself, fantastic, however, if you struggle for motivation and that get up and go, than the simplest way forward is the buddy system. We all know of that one person, be it a family member, a friend or even a partner, who wants to get fit, so why not do it together.
You will both push each other and if you are due to meet that person outside the park gate, chances are you will show up simply because you feel guilty.
Many people plan their work week but don't include any 'me time'. By including training sessions in your weekly plan, you are more likely to do it. If we see it everyday in our plan, we can prepare ourselves mentally.
Again if you have teamed up with a friend or joined a group, sometimes it's the simple social aspect we look forward to, the activity becomes the by-product.
Exercise isn't all about competition either, it is becoming more apparent that we need to include more activity and exercise into out lifestyle.
The Irish Department of Health, in line with the Harvard School of Public Health, recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, five days a week. Short bouts of at least 10 minutes can be accumulated, so if your severely pushed for time, even getting out for a brisk 10-minute walk at lunch can have positive effect, not only for your health but also clearing the head!
We must all take responsible for our own health and wellbeing, by adding in those five 30-minute sessions of exercise over the course of the week.
Those short bouts of activity can have a massive positive impact on our health.