In this day and age, people no longer quibble about whether exercise is good for our health. That debate has long been settled. Today, there are countless studies and ample evidence showing that exercise no only prevents diseases such as diabetes, but also lowers the mortality rate. But how does one start?

To many who have been sedentary a good part of their lives, even climbing the stairs may turn out to be a major work out. Then there is the question of sustainability. Can they maintain their exercise routine long enough to reap the benefits? The first thing to do is to know what is your motivation and reason for wanting to exercise. Is it to lose weight? Is it to improve diabetes control? Is it for general health? Is it to improve your fitness level? Let’s assume it’s for weight loss. Losing weight is much harder than gaining weight. This is likely due to our bodies being naturally conditioned to store fat as part of our evolutionary makeup. According to research, an average person will need to exercise a minimum of 50 to 60 minutes a day everyday to expend enough energy to lose weight. Clearly, this may be difficult for many people to achieve. The key is to understand that exercise is for the long haul and you don’t have reach that target duration on the first day. Start small and start light and slowly work your way up. This will give your body enough time to gradually adapt to the increase in physical activity and lessen your chances of injury.

Secondly, do get clearance from a doctor well-versed in exercise prescription if you are over 45 years old and especially if you have any cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or a family history of heart disease. This is important as there may be certain exercises which are more appropriate for certain medical conditions as well as some exercises which should be avoided.

Thirdly, it is always better to do endurance type or cardiovascular exercise than resistance exercise such as weight training, particularly if you are trying to lose weight or have diabetes. However, this is not to say that resistance exercise is not important at all. They are and should still form part of your overall exercise regimen.

Finally, if you are like most people, you will find that exercising with a group of friends whom you have good rapport with, greatly reduces your chance of giving up halfway. A good trainer for the group brings down the drop out rate even further.

If you need further information, the Exercise is Medicine (Singapore) website has some good resources EIMS