By Fitness Expert Timo Topp
With so many different exercise and sport options available you could get stuck at the blocks with a false start, not knowing what to do. In this article we will explore some of the most popular options out there and how they benefit you.
Warming Up – Beginners
The following exercises really suit the complete beginner such as people who haven’t done any exercise in years or perhaps are little unsure or intimidated where to start.
Walking has to be the best exercise. Anyone can do it anywhere at any time. Walking is a great option for those of you who aren’t doing much and need to get started. Because you don’t have to go anywhere or need any technical knowledge you can do it on your own which is another plus for those lacking in exercise self confidence. Walking should be brisk. Get your arms moving and use a nice big stride. It should raise your pulse rate. Aim for 3 times per week for at least 20 to 30 minutes depending on your age and fitness level.
Topp Tipp: Walking is good for improving your fitness and perfect for complete beginners.
Swimming is another great exercise because it is low impact and provided you know how to swim, simple to do. You can swim at a pace that is comfortable so it is another good option for those getting started. It is a great all round exercise just make sure you do swim at a pace that you find challenging so you get the heart rate up as too often people swim too leisurely.
Topp Tipp: Swimming is another great choice for beginners to improve your fitness, provided you can swim!
Cycling is another classic exercise as most people own a bike. Trouble is it is usually covered in cob webs in the shed. The great thing about all three of the exercises mentioned so far is that you can do them at a time that suits you, on your own. Just start at a very comfortable pace. Look to build duration before intensity, ie, it is more beneficial for the beginner to go for longer than harder.
Topp Tipp: Another simple exercise you can do from your doorstep to improve your fitness.
Yoga is a great passive exercise. Whilst there are the spiritual connections for the seasoned yoga practitioner, for those looking to just be fit and healthy it is a great exercise to invigorate the body. Yoga really ‘opens up’ the body so you become quite invigorated because it stimulates your muscles to build strength and improves your flexibility so you don’t feel so stiff. Most yoga centres have beginner classes.
Topp Tipp: Yoga is great for building some muscle tone and strength and improving your flexibility so you don’t feel so stiff.
Pilates helps to build natural strength in relation to you, increase your ab strength and at the same time improve your flexibility. If you haven’t exercised in years it is a great choice because whilst challenging it is not as intense on the body as other forms of exercise. You can do floor based classes or machine based or a mixture, again look for a beginners class.
Topp Tipp: Pilates is a great low impact exercise to build strength and improve flexibility, particularly if you have a bad back.
The Next Step – Intermediate Exercises
The following exercises are not solely intermediate but for those starting out you should be careful and consider getting professional help and proceed progressively.
Walking is a great exercise for overall wellbeing but if you really want to get fit and start shifting some weight you will need to start jogging. Running is one of the best exercises to get fit. Once again it is simple and you can do it pretty much anywhere, whenever you want. Make sure you have built some basic fitness with brisk walking first, then you can start by adding in some short running bursts into your walk. You don’t have to aim for running the whole way, slowly introduce it. Aim to run to the third lamppost then walk for a bit to get your breath back. Start with small runs and look to build distance over speed. A 20-30 minutes run is great, the longer the better.
Topp Tipp: Running is one of the best exercises for improving your overall fitness and burning fat.
Everyone should do some weight training. It keeps you looking younger because you are maintaining and promoting lean muscle tissue and it is a decline in muscle tissue that causes us to put on fat, have less energy, be less mobile and generally slow down, all the factors of old age! Weight training is important for anyone of any age. It isn’t really reserved for intermediates and above. The previous are just simpler and less intimidating than joining a gym to do exercise. It is certainly recommended that you do get a program or a trainer even if you have some basic experience. You will gain so much more from professional advice than doing it on your own, as most people tend to go to the gym and do a bit of this and bit of that which isn’t very productive.
Topp Tipp: Weight training is great for building muscle tone and strength and staying young!
Boxing and Martial Arts
Boxing fitness and martial arts such as karate, kung fu or kickboxing are great all round types of exercise that improve fitness and muscle tone and strength. Even if you aren’t of a violent disposition they tend to be a lot of fun. Again, if you are beginner of course you can do these types of activities just ensure you start with a beginner class. If you are looking to go a bit harder with your training boxing or martial arts will add a fun challenge.
Topp Tipp: Boxing and Martial Arts are great for all round fitness training and a great way to add some fun and challenge into your fitness routine.
There are lots of intermediate sports to get involved in like squash, tennis, soccer or cricket. They certainly can be more fun than the repetitive nature of fitness training so it can be a great idea to add in a sport as part of your fitness regime. Plus there is the social aspect too which has been proven to be a big part of health and wellbeing, without the post sport alcohol! Sports tend to challenge some factors that traditional exercise doesn’t like hand to eye coordination, speed and rapid changes in direction to chase a ball. Just make sure you don’t go to hard too soon!
Topp Tipp: Popular sports can add some fun into your fitness routine but be careful not to overdo it.
Weekend Warrior – More Advanced
Team sports tend to bring out the competitive streak in you, even if you are normally meek. For that reason you don’t want to start with these activities if you haven’t exercised in years. This is how people get injured. They were good at rugby or netball at school but it’s been twenty years and they think they have still got what it takes. They play the game like an eighteen year old and then can’t move for a week! Before embarking into team sports make sure you have done some basic fitness training for 4 to 6 weeks first or at least start very easily and know your limits.
Topp Tipp: Team sports are fun and challenge you but best left to the reasonably fit as you can injure yourself or overdo it quite easily.
Some Other Cool Stuff
If you are pretty fit and done all the standard things and are looking for something different you could look into kettlebell training or cross-fit. Both are more advanced all round types of training and suit the hard core as the intensity can get pretty high. The style of training is complex and challenges many components of your physical fitness including balance, coordination, speed and power. If you have no idea what these things are check them out on google. You certainly don’t want to try these types of exercise on your own without supervision.
Topp Tipp: Kettlebell training and cross fit kind of represents the top of the fitness training pyramid. It is suited to the seasoned exerciser looking for something new and challenging.
Whether you are a beginner or a master, variety is the spice of life. There are so many different types of exercises out there you can never get bored. Mixing it up is not only important for your enjoyment levels but it is great for your health and fitness. Different activities address different muscles and different components of physical fitness in different ways. So don’t get stuck in a rut, mix it and have fun!
Timo Topp is a Sydney based Fitness Expert with 20 years experience. It is Timo’s passion to make health and fitness simple, easy and inspirational for everyone to enjoy a better quality of life.