You have decided to have a regular sporting activity. You’re right, because you’ll only get benefits from it:
- You’ll improve your body’s functions: heart, circulation, breathing,…
- you will decrease the risk of osteoporosis, the decalcification of bones that occurs with age, especially in women,
- you will improve the quality of your sleep,
- you will be able to monitor your figure more easily and have a better lifestyle (less or no smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, etc.).
so you’ll feel better in your body often even in your head.
However, follow these simple, common sense rules, especially if you’ve never played any sports or if you’ve quit for a long time, if you smoke or if you’re overweight.
A few extra precautions will be necessary in the case of certain diseases.
Choose a sport adapted to your possibilities
Consider your lifestyle, physical condition and age. A prior medical examination is strongly recommended from the age of 45 onwards, and regularly thereafter. Your doctor’s authorization is even necessary if you suffer from certain pathologies, for example a cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, angina pectoris, infarction,…): he will help you to make a choice according to your condition.
If you have never done any sport, start with an activity that requires moderate and prolonged effort such as walking, gymnastics, swimming or cycling. Sports that require sudden and intense effort, such as tennis or aerobics, are not recommended from the outset.
If you choose gymnastics, start practising it indoors: a teacher will teach you how to do the movements correctly and the collective environment will help you to persevere.
Sports should be practiced regularly
Practise your sports activity regularly, once a week or more often if you can: it is better to walk 30 minutes twice a week, or to do 5 minutes of stretching every morning, than 2 hours every two weeks.
The physical effort must be progressive and adapted to your possibilities.
Whatever your abilities, start each session with a gentle pace to warm up your body. Then accelerate.
Also listen to your body to adapt your effort to your possibilities: stop if you are too hot, if you feel your heart beating too fast, if you are too out of breath or if you feel an unpleasant muscular fatigue.
For example, if you have chosen jogging, it is best in the first few sessions to run for a few minutes, then walk to recover, and then run again for a few minutes. If you run regularly, you will see your performance gradually improve without difficulty or risk.
Always keep in mind that this exercise should give you pleasure, and that it is better to use your willpower to practice it regularly than to try to achieve a performance!
Finally, avoid intense efforts (tennis, jogging, aerobics, …) before bedtime as you may have difficulty falling asleep.
Make sure you eat and drink properly
If you exercise in the morning, a big enough breakfast will help you get in shape, with fruit or slow sugars such as bread (or pasta at dinner the night before). However, wait until you’ve digested before you start exercising. So never go on an empty stomach… or just after a meal.
On the other hand, drink still water before leaving to prevent dehydration (no soft drinks, fruit juice or, of course, alcohol). You can also drink water during exercise if you sweat a lot.
An appropriate vitamin intake can help you get back into shape (e.g. Vitamin C).
Ask your pharmacist for advice.
Get the right equipment
Pay particular attention to the quality of your shoes, to avoid blisters or cushion your stride while walking or jogging (avoid running with simple <>), always wearing socks (preferably cotton) to reduce friction and absorb perspiration.
Use a bike adapted to your morphology (height of the saddle, handlebars, …).
Always cover yourself, even if it’s hot, with clothing that will absorb perspiration and cool your body. In summer, remember to cover your head.
After the effort
Drink water (low mineral content) to hydrate your body: 1/3 of a litre without ice after the effort, then abundantly during the following hours.
Do not stay in an atmosphere that is too hot, too cold or too humid.
Cover yourself, or quickly put on dry clothes to avoid cold weather.
Take a shower or a bath, avoiding water that is too hot.
Ventilate your shoes to make sure they are dry the next time.
If your effort has been intensive (an hour’s jog, for example) to allow your body to recover more easily, preferably take a meal that is neither too large nor too rich, with little or no alcohol and stimulants, giving preference to slow sugars (rice, pasta, potatoes, etc.) over fast sugars (sugar cubes, sweet drinks, etc.).