Anyone can get into better shape through exercise, but good advice can make it a lot easier.
Here are 4 tips from Dr Roland Krzentowski, president of Mon Stade, a sports and medical centre in Paris, and Dr Philippe Sosner, a cardiologist at the same centre.
Is it necessary to get a complete check-up before starting an exercise programme?
First of all, it's worth pointing out that a sedentary lifestyle comes with a much higher mortality risk than exercise does. If the intention is simply to start moving, without the goal of pushing your limits, it is not necessary to see a doctor.
However, if someone wants to engage in competitive sports, the approval of a health professional is often required.
Also, anyone with pre-existing health conditions, and namely heart conditions, is advised to consult a doctor before starting or resuming exercise.
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How often should one practice a new sport?
It depends on the goal and the sport in question. When it comes to walking, swimming and biking for leisure, it is possible to practice as little as one session per week. If the goal is improvement over time, with running for example, we recommend a schedule of three sessions per week, without exerting oneself at maximum capacity, of course.
To avoid injury, it is essential to stay hydrated by drinking regularly and to divide workouts into three phases: warm-up, exercise, and finally cool-down and stretching. It is also important to contract the core muscles (abs, lower back) to maintain good posture during physical effort.
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What is the best way to stay motivated?
According to a study, the risk of giving up is the highest during the first three months following a decision to start working out. To be of any benefit, the activity has to be one the person truly enjoys. If there is no fun involved, it's hard to stay disciplined.
All sports can be adapted to each individual's level of ability. When starting out, it is useful to have the support of a coach, a team or a friend. Social ties are often essential to the success of any exercise plan.
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Are diet changes necessary?
If the desire to start exercising stems from a desire to lose weight, keep in mind that it is necessary to eat and store energy to engage in physical activity!
Changing everything at once is difficult: we advise the people we work with not to focus on their weight, since we have realised that eating habits change progressively on their own when one starts exercising regularly. – AFP Relaxnews