Starting on an exercise program for the first time (or after a long break) can be very daunting. The fitness and activewear industry has become part of mainstream marketing andÂ advertising would make you believe that everyone is working out …and smiling while they do.
The reality is that getting back into exercise is often not easy. I like to think thatÂ finding the right exercise program is like finding the right therapist – it really has to suit your personality and your lifestyle. But it’s not just about the exercise you are doing, but ensuring you have all the rights workout gear to ensure you keep comfortable, supported and injury free. My adviceÂ when starting out is to consider the following
- Exercise that suits your lifestyle: Not everyone is going to be able to carve out 2 hrs a day to workout. We
lead busy lives and finding time to workout can be tough. Take a look at your calendar for the next week and find gaps – even if they are just 20 minutes to get some exercise in. By booking things into your calendar in advance you are prioritizing exercise and ensuring you will meet your goals.
- Be flexible: Some of us like to go to the gym, do a spin class, or go to yoga or do weights. Everyone is different. But it’s important to try new things all the time. When you do the same form of exercise you work on the same muscle groups so shaking things up and keeping the body guessing is important for overall fitness. Another aspect of flexibility is location. Sometimes we find ourselves with time on our hands but the gym is too far away. So shake things up, just go for a walk or a run or do a workout in your living room. And the final component of flexibility is stretching – make sure you stretch AFTER you exercise. It’s so very critical to avoid injury and keep the body mobile.
- Get advise: Talk to people who have been there. Find a personal trainer in the beginning you can review your posture and ensure you are walking / running/ stretching / doing weights in the right way. You don’t want to get yourself injured and its so easy to do, especially in the first few weeks and months. Injuries can really become annoying and can derail your exercise plan and a lot of other plans very quickly!
- Get the right footwear: It always amazes me how many people don’t wear the right footwear when exercising. No it is not ok to wear a pair of lifestyle loafers to go for run. You can not only do damage to your feet but to all parts of your body. Whilst going to a podiatrist is optimal to ensure you are wearing the right shoes many footwear shops now offer this service. For example I know that for me Brookes adrenalin fits my foot perfectly. I don’t even bother going into the shops anymore, I simply buy the new colouring each season when they wear out. That’s also important, with regular use your trainers will give you full support for 6-12 months, so don’t keep wearing them past their use by date!
- Wear the right bra: Ensuring you have the right support for your breasts is critical. Don’t wear bra tops for high impact exercise but ensure you have a proper fitting bra with high impact support. But if you are simply going for a walk or doing yoga a bra top is far more comfortable.
- Get the right activewear:
Â Â Â Sportswear Tops
- Cut: Some of us have big boobs, others big tummies or large arms. Different cuts suit different body shapes. But its not just about style and fashion its also about comfort. For some women who are curvier or plus size chafing can be a problem between the breasts or when the arms rub the body. So for example if you suffer from arm chafing them ensure that the gear you wear doesn’t have external seams along the body. Ensure you buy gear that fits your body and fits the exercise you want to do. Do your research. Articles like this one are useful: Yoga for newbies as it explains the types of things to consider for each exercise type.
Fabrics: Loose fitting fabrics are great for running and walking but when doing exercise like yoga or weight training often tight fitting fabrics are better and more comfortable.Â For tight fitting fabrics I prefer Merrell and other polyamide (NOT polyester) fabrics like supplex as they are cool and do not make you sweat (which polyester does drying out your skin). For loose fitting gear I love Viscose – it feels like a soft cotton but doesn’t pill. It’s cool and quick drying and is a bit more forgiving on my figure than some other fabrics.
Â Â Â Exercise BottomsÂ
- Cut: For bottoms length is an issue. If you are tall or like to cover up ensure you wear 7/8 length or full length leggings. If you get hot quickly or are short then go for shorts or 3/4 length pants. As above get the right activewear for the exercise you are planning to do.
- Fabrics: At some point cotton had a really good pr company but the reality is cotton is probably one of the worst materials to exercise in – especially for bottoms. It pills (makes those little bubbles), is not quick drying and fades with frequent wear. Ensure you wear fabrics that are dry wicking to keep you cool. Supplex is my pick as it doesn’t fade, pill, dry out your skin or lose its shape. It’s also super comfortable and the good quality ones (GSM300 and above) have a lifting effect on bits (exhibit A). Added bonuses include UV protection.
Follow these tips and you should have all the information you need to safely start exercising and meet your fitness goals.