Exercise: What should it feel like?

If you are new to exercising or have other underlying health conditions, it’s difficult to know what you should be feeling and have the confidence to continue if you are unsure.

If you normally have painful joints e.g. Arthritis, you may think exercise will do harm. The opposite is true – Moving and Exercising the joints is essential to keep them healthy and has been proven to reduce pain and improve how well your joints work.

It is so important not to avoid activity because of painful joints, it will lead to increased stiffness and weaker muscles – this is known as the deconditioning cycle

Am I doing more harm than good?

It is totally normal to feel a bit uncomfortable or even sore after exercise – especially if it is something new or you haven’t done it for a while. But remember this does not mean you are doing harm. Any discomfort should settle and as you exercise more regularly, this discomfort will become less and less – a sign that your muscles are getting stronger and joints are working better.

Am I doing enough?

We are recommended to be doing 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week, but what does this mean?

Aerobic exercise is any activity that increases your breathing and heart rate (e.g. walking, swimming, dancing, gardening), and will improve your general stamina and fitness and have many positive effects on your health and wellbeing.

What is moderate?

You should be exercising at a level that increases your heart rate and breathing, you will feel warmer and you should still be able to talk – but not sing! If you like numbers, it should feel like around 5-6 on a scale of 0-10

150 minutes a week sounds like a lot!

If you haven’t been exercising much recently, this may seem like an unreachable goal. But don’t worry, even small increases in your activity levels can have positive effects on many aspects of your health and wellbeing. Create smaller, more achievable goals like aiming for a 10 minute chunk of moderate intensity exercise per day to begin with and slowly build up from there if you are able to.

Strength & Balance Exercise

Including exercise to improve muscle strength and balance is important to maintain independence, prevent falls and make everyday life a little easier. You can do this by using weights, resistance bands or your own body weight.

To see improvements in strength you need to work with a resistance that tires your muscles to a point where you can’t do any more of that exercise, and would need a short rest before repeating another set of the exercise.

Balance specific exercises should also feel like a real challenge. The aim is that you create a little ‘safe’ wobble in your body so that you are working all your proprioceptive nerve endings (that tell your body where it is in space), and your reflex reactions. This is challenging your nervous system and to see results balance exercises should be practiced every day.

These exercises should feel like a real challenge:

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”

Here’s how to make it feel easier!

  • Hydrate – make sure you drink plenty, if you are even a little dehydrated exercise will feel harder
  • Eat well – A balanced, healthy diet will give your body what it needs to work most efficiently for you
  • Exercise with a buddy or group if able to – Increase your enjoyment of exercise and time may pass more quickly
  • Pace yourself – Don’t be tempted to increase your exercise by too much, even if you’re having a “good” day. You may feel wiped out and be put off trying again.

It shouldn’t feel like this:

  • If you experience chest pain, dizziness or you are very short of breath -stop immediately and seek medical advice
  • If you experience any unusual or sharp joint/muscle pain while exercising – first check you are doing it correctly. If it persists stop and contact your instructor for advice.

By Emma Rollings, AHS WellBalanced Clinical Lead & AHS Wellbeing Coach

Check our online classes to see what exercises might suit you!

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