Health and Exercise Tips for Beginners

Sourced by: Choma Magazine ( – HIVSA Project

January is the month where we all rethink our unhealthy December decisions and decide to get back on track. And that’s perfectly fine. What better time to start achieving your goals than the beginning of a new year?

So if you’ve decided to start working towards a healthier life but not sure where to start, simply read on for helpful tips chomas.

Start slowly

If you haven’t exercised in a long time or if you’ve never exercised before, it’s a good idea to start off slowly and then increase the pace of your exercises as you go along. The reason for this is, being a bit unfit at the moment, you might actually get tired more easily and the strain of exercising might make you feel like quitting.

Start with a ten minute walk every day and then slowly increase the time every week.

Even when it comes to going on a diet, try not to force yourself to go on an extreme diet. Start by cutting unhealthy things out of your diet, perhaps one week at a time. If you’re worried about giving in to cravings, replace your unhealthy snacks with something healthy but tasty. So instead of chips and biscuits, eat fruit and yoghurt, for example.

Find a fitness buddy

Don’t you find it easier to accomplish things when you’re doing it with someone else? When it comes to going on a journey toward a healthier lifestyle, having someone to go through it with you will definitely help. So get one of your friends and start exercising (even just walking or jogging) together. Share diet tips with each other, have weekly challenges and encourage each other to keep going.

Get fit through sports or hobbies

When you think about exercise you might immediately think about doing push-ups, running or lifting weight. For some of us, this doesn’t always sound like fun. But fitness doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Why not try taking up a sport you might enjoy? Join your school’s sport team or start your own after school sports team with your friends.

You could also enjoy doing things you love that will keep you active, like dancing, bike riding or swimming.

Keep track

It helps to keep track of what you’re doing to your body so that you can monitor your health changes. Take note of the times you’re making unhealthy choices and the possible reasons for them. Are you more likely to make unhealthy choices when you’re stressed or when you’re with your friends? Do you eat more when you’re bored? Taking note of this will help keep you aware of your habits and lead to you changing them.

Also keep track of your healthy habits. If you can keep a journal of your diet and weight so that you can see the effect of your health choices. You can even ask your doctor or another medical professional for health tips that are specific for your body type.

Stay Positive

Lastly chomas, remember to maintain a positive attitude towards your health goals. Making the decision to be healthier and take care of yourself better is always a good one so never stop trying. If you feel like you’ve backslid into old habits, simply start over. Believe in your ability to achieve your health goals no matter what.

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Depression Tips: Exercise, Diet, Stress Reduction, And More In Pictures


Let Your Pet Nuzzle Blues Away

Sometimes your pet really can be your best friend, and that’s good therapy. When you play with him, you take your mind off your problems. And when you take care of him, you’re focused on something outside yourself, which can be therapeutic.


Eat Smart to Lift Mind and Body

No specific foods treat depression, but a healthy diet can be part of an overall treatment plan. Build your meals and snacks around plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.


Choose Foods to Boost Your Mood

Some studies say omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 may ease the mood changes of depression, especially for people who may not get enough of these nutrients. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel have omega-3s. So do flaxseed, nuts, soybeans, and dark green vegetables. Seafood is a good source of B12, but vegetarians  can get it in fortified cereals, dairy products, and supplements.


Try Low-Fat Carbs for a Pick-Me-Up

Carbohydrates raise your level of the brain chemical serotonin, which enhances your sense of well-being. Go for low-fat options like popcorn, a baked potato, graham crackers, or pasta. Carbs from vegetables, fruit, and whole grains are even better choices — they also give you fiber.


Drink Less Caffeine

Do you really need that third cup of coffee? Anxiety often happens along with depression. And too much caffeine can make you nervous, jittery, or anxious. While scientists haven’t found a clear link between caffeine and depression, cutting back on it may help lower your risk for the condition and improve your sleep.


Treat Your Aches and Pains

When you hurt, it’s hard to stay in a good mood. Work with your health care team to treat your depression and your pain.


Work Out to Change How You Feel

Exercise works almost as well as antidepressants for some people. And you don’t have to run a marathon. Just take a walk with a friend. As time goes on, move more until you exercise on most days of the week. You’ll feel better physically, sleep better at night, and boost your mood.


Choose an Exercise You Enjoy

If you don’t like to run, you won’t last long training for a 10k race. But you will stay with an exercise plan you like. You can take walks, go golfing without a cart, ride a bike, work in your garden, play tennis, or go swimming. The important thing is to pick something you like. Then you’ll look forward to it and feel better when you do it.


Exercise With Others for Support

Connections with other people can help you overcome the sluggish, lonely feelings of depression. Join an exercise group or work out with a friend. You’ll stay in touch and have support to keep yourself on track.


Be Sure You Get Enough Sunlight

Do you feel more depressed during darker, cold months? You may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It’s most common in the winter, when there’s less sunlight. You can treat SAD with light therapy, antidepressants, and talk therapy.


Explore Your Creativity

Painting, photography, music, knitting, or writing in a journal are all ways you can explore your feelings and express what’s on your mind. The goal isn’t to create a masterpiece. Do something that gives you pleasure. It may help you better understand who you are and how you feel.


Make Time for Mindful Relaxation

Stress and anxiety can add to your depression symptoms and make it harder to recover. Learn to relax and you can help restore a sense of calm and control. You might consider a yoga or meditation class. Or you could simply listen to soothing music while you take a long, warm bath.


Get Involved in Your Community

When you spend time with people or causes you care about, you can regain a sense of purpose. And it doesn’t take much to get started. You can volunteer with a charity. Or join a discussion group at the library or at church. You’ll feel good about yourself when you meet new people and do new things.


Keep Friends and Family in Your Life

The people who love you want to support you. If you shut them out, they can’t. If you let them in, you’ll feel a lot better. Call a friend and go for a walk. Have a cup of coffee with your partner. You may find it helps to talk about your depression. It feels good to have someone listen.

Get the Sleep You Need

Depression makes it hard to get good rest. Some people sleep too much. Others can’t fall asleep easily. As you recover, relearn good nighttime habits. Start by going to bed and getting up the same times each day. Use relaxation techniques to help you drift off. Quality shut-eye makes your mind and body feel better.


Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

They can slow your recovery from depression or stop it in its tracks. They can also make the condition worse and keep antidepressants from working well. If you have a problem with substance abuse, ask for help now. You’ll have a far better chance of getting past depression.


Stick to Your Treatment

Exercise, a healthy diet, and other good habits may help you feel positive about your life. But they won’t replace medical treatment or talk therapy. Depression is a serious illness, and it carries a risk of suicide. If you are thinking about harming yourself, get help right away. And never stop or change your treatment without discussing it with your doctor.

If you would like to speak to a Counsellor for free telephonic counselling call the Substance Abuse Helpline 0800 21 22 23/Destiny Helpline 0800 41 42 43, or SMS 31393.  SADAG is open 7 days a week, every day of the year from 8am-8pm. SADAG provides FREE telephonic counselling, referrals to Support Groups, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Clinics, etc. We also have brochures, self-help tips & online resources at

Is it Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?

Contrary to popular belief, exercise is actually good for pregnant women and it is safe. However, research shows that most pregnant women don’t get enough exercise on a regular basis. Exercising regularly will not harm your baby; in fact, it may help in the prevention of some pregnancy-related complications like pre-eclampsia.

Know what you should avoid

Avoid horse riding, scuba diving, football or any contact sport that may cause any type of trauma to your abdomen. Ruling these workouts and sports out, you still have large variety of exercises you can do.

Avoid exercises that require lying on your back for prolonged periods. Lying on your back for prolonged periods during your pregnancy can cause the uterus to push down on your blood vessels. The uterus may put pressure on the vena cava (the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from the lower part of the body), interfering with circulation and causing a feeling of dizziness.

If you’re an active person already, you’ll need only a few modifications in your routine, just be sure to talk to your doctor about it first. However, if you’re not an active person, seek advice on how you can safely start moving. 10-minute walks are a great way to start!

Stay hydrated

Be sure to stay hydrated at all times, especially before, after and during a workout. Hydration is one of the most important aspects of your pregnancy self-care routine. Dehydration can cause unhealthy and potentially damaging effects on you and your baby. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and drink before you feel thirsty.

Be sure to warm up and cool down

Warming up your body before a workout is important because it prepares your joints and muscles for the workout and prevents muscle strains. This is especially important for pregnant women. Warming up before a workout will also help gradually build your heart rate. Your heart rate is already higher when you’re pregnant so increasing it at a moderate pace will make your workout safer and more rewarding.

In addition, you should also cool down after a workout with 5 to 10 minutes of light stretching.

Understand why you’re working out

You’re not working out to lose weight or to challenge yourself, you’re working out to maintain your fitness and not lose it. Pregnancy is not about strenuous workouts, it’s about feeling healthy for yourself and your baby. If you’re comfortable with 30 minutes, don’t push yourself beyond this limit. As per your doctor’s advice, if you feel any pain, stop immediately.

Beginners should aim for 10 minutes every other day and slowly build up the length to 30 minutes. Be sure to call your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Uterine contractions
  • Vaginal bleeding

Continue moving

Avoid stationery workouts such as holding yoga poses or lifting weights for prolonged periods. Keep moving during your workouts. If you haven’t found your pregnancy workout yet, try prenatal yoga flow, swimming or Pilates.

By Shomaila Issam

Why Exercise Should be a Lifestyle Choice

People all over the world are falling short on exercise, making lack of physical activity a global pandemic which causes one tenth of deaths, roughly the same as smoking. In fact, if a quarter of inactive people got sufficient exercise on a regular basis, more than 1.3 million deaths around the world could be prevented every year. Just half an hour of brisk walking 5 times a week can reduce your risk of premature death.

Lack of exercise has been linked with a myriad of deadly diseases. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and breast and colon cancer are often closely tied with lack of activity.

Exercise prevents obesity

Exercise helps people burn excess fat in their bodies and maintain cardiac health, when combined with a well-thought out diet plan. This occurs not only because you’re burning calories, but because you’re improving your hormonal balance and overall bodily functions.

Fortunately, exercise doesn’t have to be as complicated as some people may make it sound. You can work out for free, without having to join a gym or fitness class at the comfort of your own home using fitness videos on the internet. In addition, you can also make use of the great outdoors and go for a morning jog. Research shows that working out in the a.m. not only helps you lose weight, it elevates your mood and gets you ready for your day ahead too. You can get some vitamin D from sunlight while you’re at it as a bonus.

What’s most important is that you enjoy your workout and stick to it. The options you have are endless, from walking and swimming to yoga, weight lifting, tai chi and dancing! However, if you’re a beginner and feel you’re completely out of shape, it’s best that you don’t jump to a moderate level exercise and take a few steps back. If you have any medical problems, be sure to consult your doctor first.

Other benefits

Improved posture is another benefit of exercise that’s too underrated these days. Working your core and your upper body muscles can effectively fix your posture, which is negatively impacted by our daily, sedentary lifestyle.

Another important factor we cannot miss is stress reduction. Stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body. It takes a huge toll on your digestive system and causes a plethora of problems such as poor skin and acne, poor digestion and GERD. Your gut becomes as acidic as the state of mind you’re in when you’re stressed out. To get out of it, you need to work out.

Exercising stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals, such as endorphins, which are natural stress-busters that improve your mood and create more positivity in your life. Exercising during the day has also been shown to improve sleep.

By Shomaila Issam