A List Of Do’s And Don’ts When Starting An Exercise Or Training Program

Hi folks,

Now here is an important question. You haven’t worked out for a while, say one month, one year, or twenty years, but you have been instructed by your doctor to exercise for better health. Where should you start?

Body builders, training,

Choose your sport, make a plan, take your time getting there, and have fun along the way. From: http://goo.gl/1SMU1

I’ll tell you where not to start: don’t start somewhere crazy. Such places include, (a) things you saw on a Rambo movie, and yes I have known people do that, (b) where you left off in college before your kids (who are now in college) were born, (c) signing up for a difficult race, and then hitting the road without any thought about the potential consequences of this action or the nature of your knowledge and ability, whilst you run great success stories about your planned race in your head, and (d) wherever your imagination takes you. Don’t do that, please. It can be the road to injury and disappointment.

This is what I do recommend, for starters at least, and you’ll notice that increased mind and body awareness are high on my list:

  1. Sit down and think about it for a while, and even make some notes about where you were before you stopped training, what injuries you suffered (want to go there again?), what you enjoyed about training, at what level of intensity or volume you were working out at back then, and so forth. Then go for a nice long walk, and see how you feel the next day.
  2. Write out a list of the injuries and health problems that you have suffered in the intervening period, and consider their potential impact on your planned exercise. For this issue, Feldenkrais is well worth considering.
  3. Write out your goals for this intended training, and consider preparing a plan of exercise. Once you have a goal, say a 5k run, downgrade it to a 3k run! You’re out of shape, right? Think about it.
  4. Before you start out on your training program from Runners World, LiveStrong.Com, or wherever, address the following issues very seriously: core strength (try Pilates, it really works), flexibility, balance, and skills needed for the sport in a form that minimizes risk of bodily damage.
  5. I HAVE TO SAY THIS: talk to your physician, but please select one who knows something about exercise and training, especially in your chosen activity. I won’t go to a physician who is seriously out of shape, myself! Actually, a trip to a good physical therapist is an even better idea. He/she’ll find your weak spots (did for me).
  6. If you have a health challenge, such as I have with my abdominal aortic aneurysm, talk to other people in the same position as you who have successfully mastered a healthy training program. You can also find chat rooms or forums where your issue is discussed (see the useful links tab on this site for examples), such as Cardiac Athletes or NATA for Training with Diabetes.
  7. Make sure that you have the right gear for the sport, such as well-fitting running shoes, bike, clubs, racket, whatever.
  8. Don’t forget your nutrition and hydration, as they are critical for the enjoyment of any sport.
  9. Consider some coaching if you are returning to a sport, as a good coach will assess your level of strength and competence and help you to set your training and other goals realistically. For instance, you might have been a great tennis player twenty years ago, you hit the courts remembering what you were like, and two days later you have severe wrist pain due to tendonitis. Who you were and who you are today are not necessarily the same thing. A good coach would protect you from this counterproductive behavior by slowly scaling up your training, and prescribing some simple strength exercises to undertake before you even picked up a racket. Just bending down to retrieve a ball a few hundred times during a game, done incorrectly, can have you crippled with a bad back for days. Something that never happened when you were a youngster.
  10. Once you are prepared, by addressing the above issues, embark on your training, reassess your progress and setbacks on a regular basis, and modify your goals accordingly.
  11. MOST IMPORTANT – don’t give up, your life may depend upon it.

Exercise can be a journey of self-discovery, so have fun, and don’t forget that while the 10% rule is just a rule of thumb, it does reflect a critical attitude or state of mind.

-k Your Medical Mind


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.