How many times have you resolved to exercise only for all your good intentions to have fallen by the wayside within a few weeks. Do you have a spare room or garage full of unused exercise equipment? If you have back pain, exercise is crucial to easing your pain and preventing future problems, so you will get very tangible rewards for your efforts.
It takes time to establish new habits and change is not easy. We love to set ourselves up to fail so start by setting realistic targets (ie ones that feel too easy) to increase your chances of success.
We would love to help you make exercise a part of your life so here are some tips to help you exercise regularly.
One of the most difficult things about exercise is getting started. It is all too easy to come up with excuses to put off exercise until another day, but your back will thank you if you just do it. Here are a few tips to get you going:
- Find something you enjoy – if you don’t like getting your hair wet, then don’t go swimming! It sounds obvious, but you are much more likely to stick with it if you find it fun. What brings you joy?
- Start slowly. If you are not used to exercise, then build up very gradually. If you overdo it, you may get injured or just find it too hard and give up. Ask yourself how likely (out of 10) it is that you will be able to achieve this week’s goal – if the answer is less than 7/10, then set an easier goal.
- Make the most of modern technology. There are lots of apps available to coach you through. If you fancy running, then use the NHS Couch to 5K app – lots of our patients have had great success with it. Alternatively, you could use the social media site Strava to race your friends over bike or running routes – even when they are not with you.
Sticking with it
- Find what works for YOU. You will find it much easier to stick to your exercise regime if it fits with your lifestyle. If you need external motivation, work out with a friend or join a class. If you are not a morning person, don’t plan to exercise before work at 6 a.m.
- Set yourself goals and write them down. There are no right or wrong exercise goals, but yours might include:
- To lose weight – set a realistic target and aim for it with mini-targets along the way.
- To be able to do activities comfortably that you have given up because of your back pain, such as gardening, golf or playing with your grandchildren.
- Allow for setbacks – things won’t always go to plan and that’s ok – try to think of any upsets as “a bend in the road, not the end of the road”.
- Enter a fun run or a charity bike ride – knowing you have entered an event and that people have sponsored you can be a really powerful motivator.
- Why not put a bit of “tech” on your Christmas or birthday list? – A GPS watch to log the miles or a pedometer to count your steps and calories burned. These gizmos can really help you to keep track of your progress.
To get the most benefit from all your hard work, you need to exercise regularly – at least 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times per week but you don’t have to start there. Remember anything is better than nothing and I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t felt better after going for a walk!
PS – no product endorsements intended, links are simply for illustrative purposes. Other gadgets, apps and websites are available!