Dear Diana, I wonder if you could help? I have recently taken up exercise again after several years and am finding that the day afterwards I feel very stiff and uncomfortable. I get out of breath very easily and wonder if there is one exercise regime I should be doing in preference to others? There’s such a bewildering choice. Sandra Eagles, Northwood
You’re right Sandra – it is bewildering our there! But, stiffness and sore muscles after physical activity is known as [here comes the science!] delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The good news is it’s a sign of your improving fitness and gets less as your muscles get used to the new physical demands. When muscles work hard or in a different way there may be microscopic damage to the muscle fibres, but it’s quite normal. Achiness and stiffness a day or two after exercising can affect anyone, regardless of your fitness level. But, exercising with warmed-up muscles reduces the chance of injury and will improve your performance. So, Sandra, before your exercise regime simply march on the spot for a minute or two to raise your heart rate and warm up your muscles. (Be vigorous and swing your arms).
You mention you are breathless which may indicate some cardio vascular problems so it’s important that you don’t overdo things. Always start any new activity programme gently and gradually. I recommend Pilates exercises classes for you, a form of exercise that focuses on balance, posture, strength and flexibility and is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. Pilates targets specific muscles in a controlled way avoiding DOMS and placing less strain on
your cardio vascular system. But if you really want to ease back into exercise go online and look for my easy to use DVD – EasiFit – ease into fitness and let me know what you think.