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Carla Pregigueiro offers some great tips to create healthy habits and stay active.

The easy way to start getting fit

Many months, or even years may have passed since you were last active or even tried exercising, but any time is a good time to start (there is no time or age limit), indeed, the time is now!

Today’s article is going to look at simple and straightforward ways to create healthy habits, to stay active, to exercise and even to practice some sports, as well as offering some great tips. The most important thing is to keep going, not to just start and give up halfway through.

The first barrier that we have to face is our sedentary lifestyles. The high proportion of the population that is sedentary in the Middle East’s biggest cities, including Qatar is an issue. While I don't want to treat this lifestyle as a disease, it is perhaps necessary. As a direct result of this sedentary lifestyle many other health problems develop such as obesity, diabetes, and lack of vitamin D, to name but a few. These are the most pressing reasons for Qatar’s population to consider the importance of exercise in their lives.

Remember that by not staying active people are simply ignoring the numerous benefits of physical activity. However, there is one positive: it is never too late to start. No matter what age you are, you will always be able to take advantage of the benefits that exercise brings. The most important thing is to turn your back on your sedentary lifestyle.

Having spoken to clients, friends, and people in general about physical exercise they imagine five hours a day training in the sports center or gym. So the first excuse is that they don't do physical exercise as they don't have time and lack motivation.

So, let's work on that:

You don’t have the time or the motivation to do exercise?

1- How much time do I need?

The World Health Organization recommends dedicating at least 150 minutes to the practice of aerobic physical activity per week; therefore, you only need to do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, five days a week. But to reap the most rewards, strength training twice a week is recommended. Bottom line, you only need 45 minutes of physical exercise (divided between cardio and strength work) a day, four to five days a week.

2- What are the benefits?

Physical activity reduces the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity—a very high percentage of Qatar’s population suffers from these health problems. Exercise also helps to improve bone health, helps to maintain a healthy weight (meaning a person looks and feels better) and even improves mental health by helping to fight stress, as well as improving sleep quality, and enabling better relaxation. All these benefits are gained simply by not being sedentary. If you perform physical exercise, you will help develop muscles and increase your strength, improving your basic physical condition. So if you want to prevent numerous chronic diseases and improve many other aspects of your well-being what are you waiting for?

Obviously starting to do sport or resume it after a long period of inactivity must be accompanied by a basic guide and some precautions so the body has a chance to adapt gradually. This will help with getting into the best possible physical shape. What’s more, it should reduce the chance of giving up later.

So, what’s an easy way to start incorporating exercise into your life?

1- Returning to training or starting a sporting activity after a long time should be a slow and steady transition, allowing your body to readjust progressively. You have to enjoy yourself while doing it and you have to want to do it.

2- As well as having a varied and balanced nutritional plan (diet), it is essential to exercise at least three times a week for 45 minutes. (The physical condition of each person should be taken into consideration for physical activities.)

3- Ask a good professional to carry out a physical exam and health check so that specialists can advise based on specific needs, and then plan and supervise training with the goal of obtaining the maximum benefit from physical activity. Talk to a coach, talk to a doctor, a physical therapist—whichever is necessary in your own circumstances.

4- It is essential to do a good warm-up, to get the body ready when doing physical exercise with the aim of gradually increasing the heart rate.

5- It is advisable that during the first weeks of training a good training plan is followed, involving as many muscle groups as possible in order to activate the body and adapt it to physical exercise.

6- The training should start in a smooth and controlled way, doing exercises gradually, without straining the body too much.

7- If doing both aerobic exercises and strength training exercises, such as walking, jogging, running, swimming, fitness classes, lifting weights etc., start each activity slowly, and gradually increase the intensity of each activity to allow the cardiovascular and muscular systems time to adapt.

8- At the end of each workout, it is important to perform a series of controlled stretches for about five to ten minutes so that the muscles recover from the effort. During training, it is important to respect work and rest times so that exercise does not negatively affect your body, or your muscles—carrying out effective workouts that help you improve.

9- It is essential to follow a balanced diet that contains all the basic foods to provide your body with the nutrients it needs, prioritizing the consumption of fruits and vegetables as the main source of carbohydrates and avoiding very fatty and high- calorie foods, such as fried or battered food, or fatty meats.

10- At the beginning of physical exercise you will lose more water than usual (due to sweat). Stay well hydrated by increasing your daily water intake.

These basic tips are a guide to kick-start getting active, leading to a healthier lifestyle, by implementing them you will enjoy all the benefits that physical exercise brings!

One more very important point, being active is not just going to the gym every day and doing 45 minutes of exercise, being active is moving from the moment you get up until you go to bed (climb stairs, walk, go to work by bike, carry the shopping home etc.) The two are complementary; you must be active generally in your daily life and exercise at the same time.

The country is changing and there are more and more places where we can be active, such as parks and sidewalks, where we can walk or cycle. There are also more options in terms of types of training—sports centers, gyms, collective activities, sporting events and so on. I think that in Qatar there is no shortage of options. We have to seize the opportunity, and that opportunity is NOW!!!


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