March 2002 Issue
GETTING INTO SHAPE - The 5 ' P's TO SUCCESS
In Singapore, the National Sports Participation Survey 2001, done once every five years, shows only four out of 10 Singaporeans (38 per cent) exercise at least once a week. Overall, only 14 per cent of all working adults exercise regularly. This is just a four-percentage-point increase in five years.
Let's face it, what this survey says is that we are becoming a nation of couch ( or mouse ) potatoes. Why do we find it so hard to get started? The usual litany of excuses include:
I have no time
I hate exercise
I' m not overweight
I wont go into the benefits of regular cardio-vascular exercise because I think most people already know of this. What they find difficult is to actually clock in the recommended thrice -weekly 30-45 minute sessions that will take your heart up to 60%-80%. This volume of exercise results in maximum benefits for the average individual who isnt thinking about climbing Mt Everest or running a 10km race.
Here are some tips to get you started!
Assume you have 16 waking hours a week. That means you have 112 waking hours a week. Assume you spend about 9 -10 hours a day working. This leaves you with about ( based on a 5-day week ) 62 hours of disposable time. To fulfil the thrice weekly exercise routine, you need to spend about three hours weekly OR about 2% of your total waking hours OR 5% of your disposable time.
Think about what lasting regular, sustained exercise can bring and at such a small time cost. The excuse of no time is a shallow one - surely good health, a fit body is worth just 2-5% of our time. That's putting it in perspective.
Think your slim figure means you dont need to workout? Think again. Most Singaporeans ( especially women ) are undermuscle and over-fat - meaning that despite some people having desirable looking figures, they are carrying too little muscle. Changing these proportions leads to a stronger, fitter body without looking like Arnie Schwarzenegger
Plan to have fun when you exercise or plan to meet a certain goal. If you are over 35 and have been pretty sedentary, plan to get a full checkup from your doctor before embarking on an exercise plan. Some people may have a weight-loss target, some a goal to complete a race etc, Whichever is the case, you must set goals - maybe some as modest as " I will get out and have a workout thrice a week ",. Without a fitness goal, we become like hamburger junkies - having inconsistent meals, stuffing junk foods down our gullets. You are what you eat and you are what you do. The hardest part is starting, so plan your day. Have your workout clothes and shoes ready the night before or when you get home from work. Once you get started, it's so much easier
Dont plan on getting a gym membership to get you fit. You have to actually GO and get the workout done. Remember that popular home fitness equipment known as the Power Rider a few years ago?> Most are now expensive towel racks or used as clothes hangers. Gear doesn't make you fit, YOU make yourself fitter.
Get support! Team games are fun as are regular running partners or friends in the gym. Just make sure there is less chat and more work going on when you are with them though. Chat afterwards. If you aren't very fit, choose your workout mate carefully. The best partners are often those who are motivated to exercise, fitter than you and have goals - and trot along with you at a lesser pace when they are having an " easy" day. Draw inspiration and lessons from their stories.
...your progress. Some may have a chart on their fridge door, some keep a little diary. Celebrate successes with your family or friends.
Get a personal stories from your friends about their own success in creating a body and lifestyle that they wanted. Find out how they did it. Personally, I have had my own ups and downs. Long before I became interested in competitive sports, I reached teenagehood and put on quite a bit of weight. I became a little " chunky" at 15. When I began jogging a 2mile circuit to lose weight, I remember how proud I was at myself when I completed a planned 2-mile circuit near my home. My initial self-consciousness disappeared as I realised that people don't observe joggers, they are often " invisible". When I completed 3 laps ( 6 miles ) at a go I became hooked on distance running; lost 5kgs and about 8 inches of flab in three places. What started out as an attempt to lose weight soon allowed me to express myself in a competitive sport. Never underestimate the power of sports to change your life.