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!

What does Wellbeing mean?

The use of the word ‘Wellbeing’ has become common place these days. Have you ever wondered what is actually means?

Wellbeing is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.” and the World Health Organisation describes wellbeing as “enabling people to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, form positive relationships with others and meaningfully contribute to the community” 

Wellbeing has many components including mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual, and there are many ways to define it.

Research shows you can improve your Wellbeing by doing 5 simple things. Developed by the New Economics Foundation and widely used by many health organisations including Mind and the NHS, the 5 Ways to Wellbeing can help you cope better with stress and to live longer, healthier and happier!

Here are the 5 Ways to Wellbeing and some ideas to get started:

1. Connect with people around you

This could be with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

2. Be active

Simply put, try to move more. Try to do something that you enjoy, such as walking, running, an exercise class, dancing or gardening at a level that suits your mobility and fitness. See the Government guidelines to see how much exercise is recommended.

3. Take notice of things around you

Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice
the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to
work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around
you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

4. Keep learning new things

Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course.
Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an
instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will
enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as
well as being fun.


5. Help others

Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile.
Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in.
Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community
can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people
around you.

Need help? Visit our AHS Services to find out how we can help you.