There’s no longer any issue over regular exercise. It’s a must. Lack of it is a medical hazard. People, especially those leading a sedentary existence, must exercise. Otherwise, they will develop conditions that will lead to serious health problems.
But many people don’t exercise regularly, even guys who recognize their need for exercise and are aware of its benefits.
One problem, it seems, is inertia. Older people who haven’t exercise for a long time just can’t get started—and the longer the inactive period, the worse the inertia. So people who need exercise most—inactive sedentary middle-aged guys and those a bit younger or older—may find it most difficult to get started. This inertia, which can be overcome by a little willpower and resolve, among others, is probably strongest in people who have never exercised at all.
One way to overcome inertia is to strike while the iron is hot. One should exercise immediately or almost immediately when highly enthused for some reason—after, for instance, reading a piece on exercise or after hearing someone discuss the need for it.
But, of course, one should wait for the appropriate time, or until getting home, or when a meal just ingested is already digested. But one shouldn’t wait for the morrow. Enthusiasm may just vanish overnight.
Guys healthy enough to do day-to-day chores without trouble may get a medical check-up in a week or so after starting a light program, or even immediately if they feel some adverse affect from exercise, such as palpitations, dizziness, tightness in the chest, etc.
One should start light and easy—no hard, or strenuous, or taxing effort, also to avoid bodily aches that may prove discouraging. One can rub some balm on sore areas, and take a mild painkiller if aches do come. They should disappear soon enough.
Just taking a short walk, at a leisurely pace for 10 or so minutes or until one feels refreshed or slightly tired, should do. If one feels like it, s/he can do one or two simple calisthenics exercises like the standing body twist and arm circles.
In the twist, one stands with feet comfortably apart and hands held behind the neck; she/he twists to the left while breathing out, face-forward while inhaling, and twists to the right while exhaling. A few repetitions, six or so, will do at the start.
One does arm circles by rotating the hands forward or backward while standing with the arms stretched sideways, crucifix-style.
The movements should be done slowly and probingly at first. In the third and later reps, they can be done with vigor, pep and enthusiasm to about their full range of motion, but not in excess of it. There shouldn’t be any forcing.
As one begins, effort should be made to look forward a bit to find a little time, roughly 30 minutes or so, on three alternate days a week. One should resolve to use that time for exercise and to never, never miss an exercise session.
And one should also map out a system of gradual progression—by adding, after a week or three sessions, a repetition in each exercise every session or every two sessions. The increment should be so gradual so that one barely feels the added work done.
In the walking session, one can, also after the first week, progress by doing two or three short stretches of brisk walking, which can be lengthened by a few steps every session or two. One shouldn’t do fast walks until panting, or until the leg muscles hurt.
It will also pay to observe a good posture—even an exaggeratedly rigid posture—as one does calisthenics and walks.
With the right load, one will develop a zest and a liking for exercise. In the third week or so, a fourth exercise day may be added to the weekly program. In general, one should feel slightly tired, or refreshed, or even energized, after an exercise session.
Of course, these can all be ignored, and one can just go to a fitness center, plunk down a hefty sum for membership, etc., and let a personal trainer take care of things. But one should also think for him/herself and never become dependent on anything or anyone.
To recap: 1) Start light and easy and don’t do any strenuous or taxing movements; 2) exercise every other day, or three times weekly; 3) begin a gradual progression scheme in your second week; and 4) never miss an exercise session except for truly unavoidable reasons.
Quincy T. Ataviado is a retired journalist and lifelong fitness buff who has written some books on exercise and fitness, including “Failure-proof Weight Loss Process,” published by the National Book Store.-Ed.