Disclaimer: This article offers fitness advice with the intention of motivating people who don’t exercise regularly to get fitter. The author of the article uses personal experience and research, and is not a fitness expert.
January is here and for many of us that means post-holiday weight gain blues. But fear not, the team here at the Kovol Blog are here to motivate, encourage and compliment. Whether you want to lose weight or just get fitter, this article offers a good starting point to achieving your goal.
For all the wide-ranging New Year resolutions people make, January is — more than any other time of the year — a time when many people place a focus on getting fit or losing the weight they gained over the holiday period or past year. Getting fit is just about one of the simplest and most beneficial things you can do. All you need is some space to workout and a place to run, that’s it. In addition, the only equipment you need if you’re just starting out, is something for resistance training (dumbbells) and something for running (sneakers). It really is that simple.
Gym memberships are useful if you want to use specialist training equipment, take particular classes or be personally advised on specific training methods, but for many (especially anyone not currently working out), fitness can be achieved by yourself, at home or outside, without the need for any special equipment.
If I had to list 4 items (which already include the 2 from above), you are completely set on your way to getting fit. The 4 items are:
Even at a bare minimum, all you need to do is just start a light jogging routine and you will be on your way to getting fitter and healthier. But read on to take a look at 4 ways you can get fitter and healthier.
A gym/yoga mat is essential for doing exercises on the floor, such as sit-ups, press-ups, plank and other exercises or stretches. For a basic start, try some sit-ups or exercises that involve raising and lowering your legs. The number of floor exercises you can do on a mat is quite extensive, so head over to this article for 18 different types of floor mat exercises you can incorporate into your routine. Everyone has things that’ll work for them and things they don’t like, so try out some different types and see what works f or you.
Lifting weights is one of the best ways to increase fitness, improve stamina and add muscle. Dumbbells are versatile and give you different options for doing weight exercises. For men, adjustable dumbbells with removable weight plates are a good option as you don’t need a large set of different sized dumbbells. However, even the lightest setup on this type of dumbbell might be a bit on the heavy side for some women. In that case, a set of smaller one-piece coated dumbbells is a good option. Start with a weight that is challenging, but one you can manage. As you build up strength and muscle, you can move onto heavier weights. There’s not much point in lifting a weight that you’re struggling to do 5 reps with, which will also increase your chances of getting injured. Choose a weight that you can do about 15-20 reps with. Of course it should require effort to complete as that is the whole point, but you don’t want to be struggling. Basically, when you put the dumbbell down you should not be exhausted or out of breath. Ideally, you want to repeat a set of reps 3-5 times with a short break between each set.
Bicep curls are the most common form of exercise done with dumbbells, but there are many different exercises you can do too. All of which will add upper body and arm strength. Take a look here at a Healthline article which explains some very useful exercises you can do with dumbbells.
In my own opinion, there really isn’t any better or quicker way to get fit than running. Of course you can go swimming or cycling, and these are great ways to exercise too, but the simplicity of running is hard to beat. Running can be done anywhere, anytime and all you need is your sneakers. For beginners, a good benchmark to achieve is a 5km run. If you are new to running, you want to start slow, super slow. Build up your speed over time and don’t be ashamed to stop and take a walk in-between running. In fact this is a good way to build stamina. Don’t run yourself into the ground by feeling like you must run continuously. Plan to run for say 30 minutes, and if that is too long then run for 5 minutes and walk for 1 minute and repeat, or whatever suits you. Be sure to stretch and warm up before any run, which is explained further below.
The jump rope is a great fitness tool for days when you don’t feel like doing a run, but still want to do some cardio exercise. You can jump to whatever intensity and speed you like and you don’t need to go anywhere. It gets the blood pumping and heart rate up while giving the feet and leg muscles a good workout too. Take a look at this 5-minute jump rope workout video for beginners on YouTube.
Routine is Key
The above four things are just a starting point. It could be that you incorporate other fitness activities and/or equipment into your routine later on. But even just sticking with these four things will yield excellent results over time. The key is to maintain a routine that you follow. It could be that you break it up into two parts. Seeing as dumbbells and floor mat exercises are done indoors at home, and running and jump rope can be done outdoors, both parts of this ‘2-part’ routine could be done once a week on differing days, or whatever suits. It’s up to you to remain motivated and stick at it.
A note on warming up and eating before working out:
Stretching and warming up is extremely important, especially before running. The author of this article can attest to ankle ligament damage inflicted shortly after starting a run without any warm-up. That was back when I was naive about exercising and didn’t take it seriously. Now I would never contemplate going for a run without a warm-up. It’s no guarantee of not getting injured, but it is essential in preventing or minimizing the risk. Stretches done before running should work the upper and lower legs muscles, the groin, ankles, and feet muscles. If you’re unsure of how to warm up or what stretches to do, take a look at this YouTube video which details a 5-minute warm-up you can do before each run.
As for food, ideally don’t eat anything at all 30 mins before working out, and don’t eat a full meal at least 1-2 hours before working out. Indeed, if time constraints mean you do intend on working out not long after a meal time, eating something light, and then have something else to eat later on after exercising.
As well as its physical benefits, exercising is a great way to clear the mind of blockages or negative thoughts. You will find that if you exercise or run regularly, you will feel physically as well as mentally.
The key is to start as you mean to go on. Make it a habit and keep at it.
With that said, we hope you have gained some motivation and ideas on how to get fitter and healthier and we wish you happy workouts!!
In addition, we’d like to wish all our readers and customers a happy and healthy 2022!
The Kovol Blog Team