Are you already running out of breath when climbing stairs? Do you have sore muscles after a Sunday walk? Or are you just permanently stressed, tense, tired or in a bad mood? High time to get moving! Because in doing so you are not only doing something good for your stamina and health, but also for your self-esteem.

Together with DAK-Gesundheit, we explain how it works best with (re) entering into regular endurance sport.

This is why you should exercise

Did you know what happens in our body when we move? A whole lot! Because humans are evolutionarily designed to move a lot. Today’s everyday life with long periods of sitting in the car, at the desk or in front of the television is therefore unnatural and as a result promotes obesity, tension, cardiovascular problems and metabolic diseases.

When exercising, however, the body not only attacks excess fat reserves and builds muscles. An athletic lifestyle has other advantages:

  • Exercise lowers blood sugar levels and protects against diabetes.
  • Regular physical activity lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure; the blood circulation improves.
  • Movement ensures that the blood vessels remain elastic and protects against heart attacks.
  • Exercise reduces stress hormones and releases happiness messengers. Regular exercise therefore works against chronic exhaustion and psychological problems such as depression and anxiety disorders.

So there are many good reasons to start training immediately – and at any age: because regardless of whether you become an athlete at 20 or 80, your body and mind will always benefit.

Every beginning is difficult

“No time”, “bad weather”, “tomorrow for sure” – there are plenty of excuses to postpone the sports session. Especially if you lack motivation at the beginning of your sports career. You should keep these tips in mind for a successful start to training:

Preparation is important: Get a medical checkup before starting your exercise program. A good option for this is the “Check-Up-35”, a comprehensive medical full-body examination including blood and urine tests in the laboratory.

Fixed times: Arrange fixed dates for your sports units with yourself and record them in the calendar. Training every two days is usually optimal – this leaves enough time to relax. It is easier if you combine the training time with other activities, for example for the morning after getting bread or in the evening directly after work.

On the one hand, this creates a certain routine. And, on the other hand, you reduce the risk of giving in to the call of the couch instead of getting up again when you are at home.

Incidentally, current research shows that the more individual, specific and precise the plans are, the more likely they are to be adhered to. So it’s better: “I’ll go cycling today at 6.30pm and ride route XY, I’ll be back around 8pm” instead of “Sometime today after work I might get on my bike for a moment.”

Good planning: be prepared for weather capers and motivation lows. For example, you should have good rain gear or an indoor sports alternative for bad weather. And a compromise suggestion to yourself if you really don’t feel like it – for example: an hour of sport, an hour of watching your favorite series. The so-called directing of attention is also particularly effective. If you want to do an exercise session, don’t even bother to see what’s coming to the cinema tonight. Focus your attention only on your exercise program.

You should really postpone the exercise session if you feel sick. Because if you have a fever or a respiratory infection, exertion can be dangerous for the heart. Also important to prevent injuries: Warm up thoroughly before each exercise and stretch if necessary.

Small goals: don’t set yourself too much. Complete exhaustion and severe muscle soreness the next day can quickly have a demotivating effect. You should get a little out of breath and sweat, but that’s all it takes. If conversation is no longer possible due to the sheer exertion, this is called intense stress. Some like that: “working out”. It is healthy too, but the high intensity is not a must for health.

Even a busy sports calendar can quickly become too much. So instead of resolving to do sport every day, it is better to plan 1-2 sport appointments per week and then slowly increase the workload.

Great successes: Increase your goals a little bit with each exercise. For example: jogging for half a minute longer, swimming one lane more, doing two more repetitions for gymnastics. Stay moderate, it increases the likelihood that you will stick with it in the long term. Make a note of your training progress, and be aware of how it takes longer to become out of breath or to lose strength. That makes you proud.

Good company: Find a sports partner . In the running group or on a fixed date with a friend, it is much more difficult to cancel or give up than alone. And: If you enjoy exercising or if your ambition is awakened, it will seem much less strenuous to you.

Take advice: Especially for beginners, it is a good idea to get advice or support from a professional when choosing the sport and planning the training. For example, from the physical or sports therapist, fitness trainer or even the doctor. This minimizes the risk of injury and maximizes the positive effect on health.

Which sport is right for me?

The following sports are also suitable for (re) beginners. Depending on your physical requirements, goals and, last but not least, your gut feeling, decide which sport suits you.

Running: Mainly works the muscles in the legs and buttocks. Running training quickly shows success in terms of fat loss and endurance. Another advantage is that the training can be done anytime and anywhere. When running, there is a certain shock load, but this does not necessarily have to be negative: It prevents bone loss and increases the effect on the muscles.

However, if you find walking uncomfortable or if you have joint problems, for example, Nordic walking is a gentler alternative. The shock load on the joints is eliminated when walking briskly. The rhythmic use of the sticks also strengthens the muscles in the upper body.

Swimming: trains the whole body, can be started well even with high body weight and poor basic fitness, is easy on the joints. There is almost no risk of injury. However, swimming can quickly become expensive if you have to pay entry to the pool every two days. Tip: buy monthly or annual tickets, use discounted admission in the morning or evening or just go swimming once a week as a recreational sport (such as running).

Cycling: Mainly trains your legs and buttocks. Can be integrated very well into everyday life, for example when short distances are covered by bike instead of the car. Invest once in sensible equipment, especially in a helmet and an optimally adjusted bike. This minimizes stress on the joints and the risk of injury.

Yoga / Pilates: trains the whole body, ideal for reducing stress. There are suitable courses for every fitness level. However, it is more suitable to improve mobility and posture – because calorie consumption and increased endurance are limited. Strictly speaking, yoga and Pilates are actually not endurance activities – for beginners, however, these can be nice forms of movement to get the pulse pumping. Movement is always good for the heart. Ideal as a recreational sport for swimming, running or cycling.

Dancing: Often perceived as less strenuous because of the training in the group and the accompanying music. Not only endurance and muscles are trained, but also coordination and balance. Calorie consumption and joint stress vary depending on the dance style: For example, they are in the middle range for couples dancing, and higher for jazz dance or Zumba.

Motivate the little ones too

When you start exercising again, you will also set a good example for your entire family. Because it is especially important for children that they learn early to develop fun with movement – then it will be easier for them later in life to integrate time for regular endurance sports into their everyday lives.

You can also include the youngsters in your personal training program: Take the children with you to the swimming pool, for example, or take them to a run once a week – if your child is still too small to run, they can also ride the (three) wheel next to you Take a ride, go on bike tours with the whole family, organize races or attend special parent-child sports courses.

If the last sport units were a few years ago and you are 35 years of age or older, then it makes sense to get the “OK” from the doctor – even if you feel in top shape. Many diseases start insidiously. DAK-Gesundheit therefore offers a preventive check-up from the age of 35 . So that exercise is also implemented naturally in the curriculum in schools, DAK-Gesundheit, together with the Cleven Foundation, has launched the “fit4future” prevention initiative, which helps schools, among other things, to convey fun in exercise and a healthy lifestyle. The initiative has already been implemented at 1,500 primary and special schools nationwide since 2016 and is free of charge for all schools.In the next school year, another 500 elementary and special schools can participate free of charge.

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