How to get moving again after being sedentary for years

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I achieved a 60% increase in physical performance in only three weeks after following these steps. If you want to get moving again and if you’re like me and lived a fairly sedentary life, then this will help.

First a little background.

Towards the end of last year my family had a holiday on Rottnest Island.

Rottnest is a great place to chill out. It’s the perfect place to go if you want to get moving again by going to the beach, taking long walks and riding a bike. There’s only a handful of service vehicles on the island, so everything runs at a slow pace.

Surrounded by clear blue water and reefs the island covers 19 square kilometres (7.3 square miles) and has several accommodation choices which range from 3 star hotels to bungalows, chalets and tents.

To get around, you hire a bike and off you go.

What I thought would be a terrific break for five days turned out to be a hibernation like that of a brown bear in winter.

I simply could not keep up with everyone else.

I realised something wasn’t right with my leg. I found out later that I had Plantar Fasciitis. After the first day of walking/riding around the island my heel was incredibly painful and my calf muscle was tight. It felt like walking with a rock in your shoe – poking into your heel every time you planted your foot.

Then the bike riding. I probably could have guessed that riding wasn’t going to be the most comfortable thing for me. No matter what the size of the bike seat, it felt like all 130 kilograms was resting on a spike near my ass. OUCH!

I left Rottnest and made a decision that this wouldn’t happen again. I got home and began my incremental diet – with my first goal of dropping some weight so I could get more active.

Where to start with exercise

The first place I started was with my doctor. After all, I was fat, unfit and unhealthy. I’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle for years even though I was very active when I was young. I want to get moving again and if you’re in a similar position, the best advice I can give you is to start with your GP too.

My doctor is terrific. After years seeing another GP for 10 years that seemed like they were going through the motions every time I visited, I switched to my new doctor who listens then shares the latest medical information with me on the subject.

He ran a few tests including my bloods and once the results came in recommended I see an Exercise Physiologist. I’d never heard of that before. He summed up the profession by saying they were ‘Like a personal trainer but more qualified’.

OK well that was good to hear. The last personal trainer I encountered was at my local gym. The gym gave me a complimentary 20 minute meeting with a personal trainer who was ignorant and obnoxious. Not only did she fail to listen to anything I had to say, but she took a ‘1 size fits all’ approach – which in my case didn’t fit. She would do things that were quite unbelievable to me.

Like the time when I’m walking away on the treadmill and she appeared next to me, ramped up the speed and stated ‘this is where you should be at’. I lowered the speed and explained I was quite happy to work out on my own to which she accused me of being intimidated by her because she was a strong woman! Umm… I was raised by a strong woman and my entire family network is filled with strong women. If anything, I’m more attracted to strong women – she wasn’t intimidating at all. I’m not intimidated by stupidity.

You might have noticed a change in my tone. Yep, shit is about to get real – because I’ve had enough of all the crap advice and I’m sure you probably have too.

Let me add here, I have previously had a great personal trainer who was/is still one of my favourites. Unfortunately he moved to Melbourne so I can’t see him any more. So while I’m hating on one, they’re not all bad. But getting the right personal trainer/Exercise Physiologist is important.

The Exercise Physiologist meeting

So I turn up to my first meeting with my EP. She sits me down and runs through a survey with me as well as reading my GP’s notes on my condition. We discuss my Plantar Fasciitis, the results from my blood test and she takes her own measurements. Height, weight, blood pressure etc…

Then, surprise surprise, she sets up a small workout routine to set a benchmark.

This is my starting point.

She wants to know what I can currently do, while monitoring and measuring everything.

She spoke to me about technique on the exercise routine to make sure I don’t hurt myself in the process.

Then she created a plan, taking into considering the equipment I have at home, the problem with my foot and working on small incremental gains.

After my meeting I left with a feeling of confidence. First of all, I know it was all within my personal limits and everything was checked and measured. It felt difficult, but not overwhelming or impossible.

If you’ve ever had the experience of climbing a flight of stairs and running out of breath, you’d know that uncertainty with exercise. Something in the back of your mind wonders if you can survive this. Having a qualified Exercise Physiologist next to me helped put my mind at ease and know that I was training within my limits.

If you’re not feeling confident with exercise or have some hindrances like I do, I’d highly recommend you book in a session with an EP near you.

My routine

The first routine was pretty simple and it got me moving, albeit slowly.

  • 10 x minute walk on a treadmill or outside.
  • 100m of rowing
  • 60 second rest
  • 10 x Squats
  • 60 second rest
  • 10 x Push-ups
  • 60 seconds rest then repeat two more times.

All in all, this workout takes about 20 minutes and I was to try to do three times a week. Definitely do-able.

She gave me permission to reduce anything if I felt like it. So for example, if I was really struggling to get the third set of push-ups done, I could drop to my knees instead of my feet.

The next session I had three weeks later, she ran the benchmark test again. In every area I had increased my ability by 60% or more.

So what seemed like a simple routine that is pretty easy – resulted in a 60%+ improvement in performance.

This type of training is called High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. Beginners can do this as well as professional athletes. The performance gain is what impressed me the most.

My next routine is a bit different, but follows the same HIIT principles. I still have some problems with my foot so we decided to stop using the treadmill for a few weeks.

This months routine is;

So it’s a little tougher, but I can already feel the gains I’m making which feels great.

These small exercises only three times a week have already made a big difference to the way I feel.

One thing I will add on the advice of my EP. If you are feeling a little light headed during or after your workout then stop. This is even more likely to happen if you’re in ketosis. If it does, then try eating 30 minutes before you workout. An apple is a good idea as it will give you some extra energy during the workout.

If you’d like to get moving again after being sedentary for a long time, here’s my recommendation;

Step 1: Book a meeting with your GP. Get all the relevant tests and make sure you know whatever it is you might not know about your current condition.

Step 2: Book a meeting with an Exercise Physiologist. You’ll be glad you did.

Step 3: Start small with some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

I hope this has inspired you to take the next steps to increase your fitness. I know for me it’s doable, it’s only three times a week and it beats the old marathon cardio workouts I was used to.