A beginners' guide to working out

First published: 12-02-2015

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Now that New Year's Day is but a distant memory, you might have lost a little of that 'new year, new me' enthusiasm and try as we might, it's hard to keep up those resolutions once January is over. However, if working out more was one of your goals for this year, don't go giving up just yet! Getting into exercise might seem daunting, but there are a few tricks you can try to get you in the right frame of mind. We've got some suggestions that can help you stay on top of your new workout regime, keeping you fighting fit until you ring in 2016!

Pick something you enjoy

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When it comes to exercising more, a lot of people instinctively think of the gym. They imagine sweating away over a weight rack or a treadmill and don't think beyond the confines of that. It may seem obvious, but the best thing you can do in your bid for fitness is to find something you will actively enjoy doing.

Anything that gets your body moving and your pulse racing (be it golf, swimming, rugby or dancing) will be a perfect way to work out, so don't think that it's the gym or nothing. Think about the activities you have done before that put a smile on your face - if they were also physically challenging, chances are they are right for you.

Once you have figured out what sport/activity you like, see if there are any other similar ones you can try. If you like a leisurely bike ride, for example, why not give spinning a go? Or if you enjoy dancing at the weekends, you could try something like Zumba or even Pilates!

If you enjoy the activity itself, you will throw more energy into it and ultimately, this will mean it works you harder. You'll also be inclined to exercise more regularly, so it's a win-win situation!

Little goals

Once you have decided which activities you are going to try, set yourself small, realistic goals. If you plan to run a marathon within a month, chances are you are going to find it really difficult. However, if you challenge yourself to be able to run five miles non-stop within a month, this might be more achievable.

The first step is figuring out your current ability level. See how many press-ups you can do without stopping, for example, and set a target for improvement (making sure your technique is correct and safe, of course). If it's swimming you fancy, check how many lengths you can do in five minutes and try to increase it over a set number of sessions. Once you have achieved your targets, you can then set a new challenge for yourself, constantly pushing to get better.

Get your kit on

The way we think about exercise affects our ability to perform, so now that we've got you excited for the exercise you enjoy, start thinking of it more seriously by investing in some quality kit.

For so many activities, proper footwear is essential; a quality pair of trainers can last you years, so get yourself a really good pair that fit you comfortably. This will help you perform to the best of your ability.

The act of putting on your exercise kit will help get you in the right frame of mind. Quality sportswear doesn't have to be expensive; many retailers will sell gear that is durable and purpose-made for very reasonable prices.

If you know you've got a dodgy knee or elbow, for example, look out for supports that you can wear while you work out. This will help protect you from picking up unwanted injuries and keep your body in tip-top condition.

Gadgets galore

Having something to help you keep track of your progress might make all the difference, so a sports watch might just do the trick. Many watches come equipped with a range of clever gadgets that are made with sport in mind, so whether you want a calorie counter, a device to measure your dive depth or a GPS system, you can find a watch to suit your needs. Image 3
This men's chronograph from Adidas Performance is great for runners, since it has the capacity to record 100 laps, an interval timer and a backlight if you're out while the light is dimming. It is also water resistant up to depths of 200 metres, so you can take it swimming or diving without any worry. Image 4
For ladies, this Garmin watch can track your times as well as your distance, helping you stay on top of your improvement. It also measures your heart rate and performs the same function as a stop watch, making the perfect addition to your workout regime. It is water resistant up to depths of 50 metres, so while it is not made for full submersion in water, it will carry on working perfectly if you get caught in the rain.

Buddy up

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For many of us, working out is so much easier when we have someone encouraging us, so why not try pairing up with a friend to help you on the road to fitness? If you and your friend both fancy being able to run further or faster (or both), plan out a running route nearby and go out for a run together. You will find the time passes quicker when you are together and if one of you is lagging behind, the other can give a little encouragement.

You can also work on those goals together. If it is running you're both interested in, you could sign up for a charity run together; this will give you that extra boost of motivation to get out on the track. Alternatively, if you both go to the same class, you can support each other through the bits you know you find tricky and make an event out of exercising.

A healthy diet

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Again, this might sound obvious, but a healthy diet is one of the best ways to help you exercise. If you put all the right things in, like protein, lots of veg, and plenty of water, your body will be far more responsive to the exercise you do. Of course, we're not suggesting you completely cut out those treats that we all love, but maybe reduce the amount you have and increase your intake of fruit and veg to balance it out.

If you want to start exercising or simply do more of it, these suggestions should help make the whole thing easier. Of course, exercise will - and should - always be hard work, but that's when you know you are going to get the most out of it. Keep all these tips in mind and you should notice a huge difference in how you feel when working out.

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