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Setting attainable goals

Regular exercise can be life changing. The benefits are well known: physical exercise helps people to maintain a healthy weight, keep muscles trim and reduces the risk of developing certain diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.

A continued programme of exercise can also improve sleep patterns and boost our sense of wellbeing. When considering the obvious benefits, why do so many of us start on the path of good intentions but eventually fall by the wayside?

The way to achieve success is starting out with an action plan that reflects your current physical abilities and how much spare time you have.

Planning the first steps

Do a little planning beforehand. Decide what you want to achieve and what supports you can rely on to tip the scales towards achievement rather than failure.

Asking a friend to join you in exercising increases your chances of succeeding. Another option is to research exercise groups in your area that walk or jog around a local park.

Don’t set unrealistic goals. Consider exercising twice a week to start with and remember to introduce a few warm-up exercises to avoid muscle strain. The aim may be to go running regularly, but if you haven’t exercised for some time, a more sensible approach is to combine walking with short bursts of jogging; gradually increasing walking speed and the periods of gentle running. The NHS Couch to 5K programme is a great place to start.

When sessions are back up and running, pilates and Tai Chi are excellent for strengthening muscles and improving coordination. Yoga or other movements to stretch muscles will boost your body’s flexibility.

Running, fast walking, dancing and swimming will also do wonders for your physical health.

Most gyms also offer advice from a personal trainer to help you get started and make the most of the equipment available.

Undertaking regular exercise can be one of the best decisions you will ever make – and the main beneficiary is you!

It might be the most important thing you do today.

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