Any day is the best day to start or re-start exercising, you don’t need the start of a New Year to do so.  But to start or re-start training at this time of year is popular and does have some advantages such as time to have thought about your New Year’s Fitness Goals.

If you do start or re-start exercising now, here are some dos and don’ts:

– Don’t expect immediate results.  Everything you do from the start of a training programme adds to the end result(s) but the changes you are looking for won’t be obvious for a period of time.  For small endurance, power, strength or cardiovascular fitness improvements, expect to wait around 6 weeks to notice any change.  For skill improvements, you may see a change sooner depending on the difficulty of the skill.  For flexibility improvements expect to see a change no sooner than 8 weeks.

– Don’t start too hard, heavy or fast.  Remember two important points.  Firstly, it is not just how you feel during the session that is important, it is how you will feel in the coming days.  Severe delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is something you will recover from but it is off putting and could prevent you from training for a period.  Secondly, you may just be thinking about muscles – skeletal and cardiac, in terms of what works/bears load and changes during and following exercise.  However, consider tendons, bones, ligaments, cartilage and connective tissue as well.  All of these structures need to be stimulated for them to change positively as well as your muscles and they are all interdependent on each other in terms of an efficiently functioning musculoskeletal system.  Going too hard, heavy or fast too soon can cause problems in these structures that will only become manifest some time down the line.

– Make New Year’s Fitness Goals.  Have something to aim for, something to measure.  Your goal or goals could be simple and general e.g. being stronger to complex e.g. running a half marathon in 2 hours but do make them.  As you consider your goals, do make them achievable.  They could be hard to achieve but if you ask too much of yourself then you will only fail.  Consider how long it takes to change strength, endurance, power, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and skill as indicated above.  Consider how much time you can realistically devote to exercise.  Consider the cost.  Make your goals with these factors in mind.

Of course there are many other elements to consider when planning and preparing your training and when making your New Year’s Fitness Goals but following the above will get you off to a great start.

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