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Physical Health

Exercise dos and don’ts

Stay motivated and reduce your risk of injury with these tips from an exercise physiologist.

Charmaine Yabsley
November 2018

If you’ve ever set a fitness goal then abandoned it, you’re far from alone. Choosing a workout you won’t stick to, setting an unachievable goal and ignoring injuries are some of the reasons people might ditch their fitness plans. So we asked an exercise physiologist her top tips to increase your chances of success (and you don’t even have to wait until the New Year).

DON’T: Ignore an injury

If you’re injured, it might be tempting to push through the pain. But this isn’t a good idea, says Beth Sheehan from Exercise & Sports Science Australia.

What to do: Depending on the type of injury, either seek treatment or rest. Your GP or physiotherapist can advise if it’s okay to keep exercising and how you can do this while your injury is healing.

DO: Be patient

Are you new to regular exercise, or returning after a break? You may be at risk of injury if you try and do too much, too soon, says Sheehan.

What to do: “Have an induction with a professional trainer to ensure you’re doing exercises which are suited to your capacity,” she says. Then slowly work up to harder exercise.

DO: Consider your goals

What are you looking to achieve? Losing weight? Building muscle? Boosting your cardiovascular health? This will determine the type of exercise that will work for you.

What to do: Choose an exercise program that’s tailored to your goals so you see the results you want.

Read the benefits and considerations associated with different types of exercise or speak to a personal trainer or exercise physiologist.

DON’T: Set unrealistic goals

If you bite off more than you can chew, your goals will be hard to achieve.

What to do: “Setting small, achievable goals over a longer period of time is much more attainable than setting a large goal in a short space of time without putting in place appropriate steps,” says Sheehan.

For example, instead of having the broad aim of getting fit, you might set a goal to swim laps twice a week. When you achieve that goal, you can set a new one.

DO: Find what drives you

You’re more likely to commit to exercise if you find a motivation, or ‘hook’, Sheehan says. It could be completing a 5km run, jumping on the trampoline with your kids, playing lawn bowls or even training to walk the Great Wall of China. 

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