The right choice of sport increases chances of success

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Doing more sports is probably one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. However, the motivation to exercise often disappears after just a few days of training. Choosing the right type of sport can counteract this, and, according to experts, it depends above all on what you want to achieve with the additional exercise.

Every second adult in Austria does not get enough exercise. “This is a big problem because there are few things in medicine that we are as sure of maintaining health and quality of life as regular physical activity,” says sports medicine specialist Anne Hecksteden from the University of Innsbruck to science.ORF.at.

Sporting New Year’s resolutions are, therefore, never wrong, especially if you can actively implement them over a longer period of time. “It’s important to think in advance about which form of exercise suits me best,” says Hecksteden. The sports physician has a few pointers to make the choice easier.

Personal goals
Before starting your New Year’s resolutions, you should definitely ask yourself what you actually want to achieve with exercise. If your main goal is to lose weight, endurance training or longer walks are the right choice; if you want to build muscle, strength training and perhaps a gym membership are worthwhile.

“Previously healthy people have a lot of freedom here, and you should take advantage of that,” says Hecksteden. It is, therefore, often worth trying out different types of sports in order to find a form of exercise that is feasible and motivating in the long term.

Start slowly
People who have not done any sport for years should not overdo it at first. “It is definitely advisable to start with moderate forms of exercise,” says Hecksteden.

Walks are a good starting point, but you should neither move too quickly nor too slowly. The “talk test” serves as a guide. “Especially in this initial phase, you should walk so fast that you feel exhausted but can still converse fluently and in full sentences,” says the sports physician. You can then gradually increase the pace or switch to more demanding sports.

Compatible with everyday life
Another important factor is compatibility with your own schedule. “We have to find a form of exercise that we can actually integrate into our everyday lives in the long term,” says Hecksteden.

As a general rule, “We should do at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week.” Several short training sessions per week offer the greatest health benefits. Dragging yourself to the gym after a long day at work is the wrong approach for some people. “If time is an issue, you can also become a weekend warrior,” says Hecksteden. Individual, longer sports sessions at the weekend also promote health and are usually easier to implement.

If you have more time, the sports physician advises you to make the most of it. “We are now certain that doubling the minimum weekly training time also increases the positive effects on health.”

Enjoy the exercise
In order to stay motivated in the long term, it is essential not to have to force yourself to do every exercise session. “It’s very important that we enjoy sport at least a little bit,” says Hecksteden. Group sports are, therefore, also a good way for some people to get physically active several times a week and stay motivated in the long term. “So someone who enjoyed playing soccer in their youth, for example, it would be a good idea to get back into the sport and use this group dynamic effect and the fun.”

More monotonous sports could also benefit from technical aids; long walks or running laps are more bearable for some people if they listen to music or podcasts. Sport quickly becomes a minor matter without losing the health benefits.

Realistic expectations
It is also important not to set your own expectations too high. In many cases, motivation is lost if the figures on the scales hardly change, even after several weeks. “If we embark on a typical health sports program with two and a half hours of exercise per week, we shouldn’t assume that our weight will immediately drop dramatically—at least not without an accompanying change in diet.”

Clarify any restrictions
If you have any pre-existing conditions or other restrictions that affect your fitness, you should definitely discuss your New Year’s resolutions with a specialist beforehand. “It’s certainly a good idea to sit down with a doctor and clarify whether the activity is really safe,” says the sports physician.

This is recommended at a certain age anyway. “At retirement age, and especially if you haven’t done any sport for years despite your advanced age, it’s a really good idea to talk to your GP first.”

Exercising well into old age
Nevertheless, age is no excuse. “We now know that the ability to train is maintained into old age in relation to the initial performance capacity,” says Hecksteden. An untrained person aged 70 is naturally less efficient than an untrained 30-year-old. “However, the percentage by which you can improve through health sports activities is the same for both people.”

Good fitness is even more important in old age. “It can be the difference between maintaining independence at home and needing care.”

  • source: orf.at/picture: pixabay.com

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