Fitness for beginners (and 'returners') is a big deal right now. It is Space Year 2020 and that rumble you hear in the distance is the stampede heading towards your local gym as over-indulgers try to get fit in 2020. The promise of a summer spent half naked on a beach and a Christmas choc full of, erm, chocs means this is the time of year that many look to start (or reignite) some sort of fitness programme. We already have a list of the top 5 gym machines for beginners to start with, but this is something extra special.
Dan Fallon, an ex-Royal Navy physical instructor, knows just how hard many find it to kick-start a routine and understands that jumping into such a thing headfirst will likely lead to burnout and/or failure.
Instead, he believes that starting with just one change to the daily routine can have a massive impact on overall health. So, rather than steaming into a gym programme, try simple things, like adding the odd lunge when vacuuming lunges or attempting some kitchen planks, as Dan believes that we can become stronger, fitter and leaner by doing the things we already do. The art of losing weight is not only good for your physical health, it can also have a massive positive impact on your mental health too.
Luckily, it is all extremely simple. Following Dan’s advice below could be the best way to successfully hit those fitness goals and ease yourself into a brand new routine, without overdoing it.
Once you've eased yourself in to something new, don't forget to check T3's comprehensive fitness channel, which has a variety of workouts, myriad advice and the best products to help you meets your fitness goals.
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Start with One Thing
If you think you are going to get straight into the gym routine you did when you were 18 years old and not suffer the consequences, think again. Start with something as simple as walking. Power walking can burn up to 350 calories per 30 minutes if you are going at a good pace (13-14 minute miles).
Do this for 10 days and that is one pound of body fat gone. As you build momentum, you can start adding extras. Keeping it basic and mastering the fundamentals is critical for long-term engagement in fitness.
Win the morning
Everyone is time poor these days. That’s why mornings are the best time of the day.
Evidence suggests that we can survive very well on 7 or 7.5hrs of sleep, so sacrificing an hour in the morning to burn some calories is a good trade-off.
My tip is to put your alarm on the other side of the room. As soon as it goes off, go straight to the bathroom and brush your teeth. This stops your brain negotiating.
Keep on your feet
Most people think that fat loss is achieved by doing 45 minutes in the gym. The reality is that although this has huge benefits to your health, it’s not wholly necessary. You just need to keep moving – it burns energy and energy is calories. This is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Get geeky and track your steps and heart rate with a running watch.
Once you have started to walk regularly and consistently, you are likely to notice that your mood has elevated. When we are in a better state of mind, we tend to make better choices in what we eat.
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Make fitness a part of everyday life
Whatever you are doing around the house - cleaning, tidying, gardening – turn it into an exercise. Do lunges whilst you vacuum. Perform a core exercise routine in the kitchen whilst you wait for dinner to cook – for example try a 1 minute plank (30 secs right plank, 30 secs left plank) while the soup is heating up.
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Choose holiday breaks that have lots of walking
It might seem obvious but choosing a holiday or break that doesn’t require you to drive anywhere can make such a difference. Plus, whilst you’re walking, you have more time to soak up the scenery, take a ball to throw around, or play a game that gets the heart rate up.
Do epic stuff
After fitness folk have been encouraged to start with one thing, they often get the wind in their sails. They start believing in the super versions of themselves. Many go on to challenge themselves further by dedicating their blood, sweat and tears to a bigger purpose. They start doing their bit for charities and raise awareness for research projects that can help fight critical illnesses. This is super motivating and can ignite the drive to train harder.
Get support from friends, family and online communities
Accountability is really important when you are trying to lose weight and get fit. Get your friends and family involved so they can support you. When the going gets tough you will need them. Look for online groups to join where you can compare notes and get advice.
Not wanting to let people down is a powerful tool for staying on track and it can be the most important ingredient for a successful long-term fitness journey.
Dan Fallon is author of Start with ONE THING: The Dad’s no BS approach to fat loss and fitness (Rethink Press, £12.99) and founder of the Super You Project, the Dad’s online fitness community.