It’s that time of year. The sun is shining, we’re getting out the summer clothes and feeling a little uncomfortable about our bodies after a long winter of comfort eating and sitting by the fire. Fear not, help is at hand to get you in shape and feeling better about yourself.
Máire Harney and Annalouise Muldoon from the Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science at WIT offer some tips to increase your physical activity levels, tone up and ultimately feel better in your summer.
Get Active! The physical activity guidelines recommended that all adults do at least 30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity on at least 5 days of the week for all the health benefits that are associated with activity. However, for weight loss, of 1-2lbs per week, it is recommended that you increase this volume to 200-300 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week. This can include walking, running, swimming or any other aerobic activity that you enjoy. To work at least at a moderate intensity you should get a little sweaty and be slightly out of breath but you should still be able to chat to your exercise buddy! Alternatively you can work at a vigorous intensity where you get sweaty and can’t hold a conversation but can maintain the exercise for at least 20 mins. The harder you work, the less time you need to work for!!
Why weight! There are lots of different types of weight training. The good news is that they don’t all result in increasing the size of your muscles! There are so many benefits to doing some form of resistance training; you can increase your bone density (to help avoid osteoporosis), you can increase your muscle tone which will make you stronger and look fitter, and you can also increase your metabolism (which helps your body to burn more fat throughout the day). You don’t have to go to the gym to do weight training. Once you are using some form of resistance e.g. your body weight or dumbbells or full water bottles you can achieve your aim. There are lots of apps and programmes on social media sites which will guide you on programmes to help tone the main areas of the body. To tone your muscle, you should do roughly 15-25 repetitions of each exercise. Build up the repetitions as you are able. Remember, the key with all types of exercise is that if it feels comfortable, you need to change something to make it a little harder to keep getting benefits.
Get started and set some goals! To help you achieve the most benefits from your efforts, think about what you want to achieve and follow these simple steps to set yourself some exercise goals:
S pecific You have a much better chance of achieving the goal if you are very specific on what your goal is. E.g. A general goal would be to get in shape but a specific goal would be to plan to be active 5 days a week.
M easureable Make sure you can measure your progress toward the achievement of each goal you set. E.g. that you will build from 10 squats to 100 squats in 4 weeks.
A ttainable Identify the goals that are most important to you and figure out ways you can achieve them by planning the steps you need to take and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. E.g. to build to 100 squats in 4 weeks, add 20 extra squats each week.
R ealistic Your goal must be something you are willing and able to work towards. E.g. from couch to 5k, walking or running programme in 2 months, rather than a couch to marathon in two months!!
T imely Goals should be set within a time frame. If there is no set time frame then there will be no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by?
The hardest part of any new exercise programme is getting started so don’t put it off any longer, set some goals and get active today.
Do you think YOU might like to learn how to prescribe exercise and teach exercise classes for other people? Then contact Annalouise Muldoon or Máire Harney at WIT Fitness School, part of the Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science in WIT, at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on our short, part-time courses on Fitness Instruction and Group Fitness Instruction which are starting next October in WIT. These courses meet the standards required by REPS Ireland. More information is available at www.wit.ie/parttime.