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Updated 13 May 2016

'BeweegSA' exercise plan, week 1 to 4

With Health24's 'BeweegSA' easy exercise plan (2011) you will start off with a three minute brisk walk per day, and just five easy muscle exercises. And it will only take only 10 minutes of your time.

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Just get moving! You will see and feel the difference sooner than your think.

The exercise plan will help you to lose fat more quickly than just with the eating plan.

Instant solutions don't work

It's only human to look for instant solutions. Who wants to exercise and adapt their eating habits if your can just swallow a pill to instantly become slim? The ads make it look so easy: "Lose 28kg in three weeks" or "Wonder weight-loss product", and so forth. No wonder "Simply Slim" sold like hot cakes, despite all the health risks involved. People were hospitalised with serious heart palpitations, but desperate South Africans did not stop buying this "instant solution" to their overweight problems. People carry on trying anything and everything to lose weight quickly – and end up gaining twice the amount they lost, usually within less than a year. 

Unfortunately there are no instant solutions to problems that developed over a long period of time. Not even a stomach stapling operation (popular in South Africa because of the increasing numbers of morbidly obese people) will help you become slim within a week or a month. Actually, with exercise you can lose just as much weight, just as quickly as with a stomach stapling operation. Mollie and Wors didn't get plump overnight, and a ten-day diet and three hectic exercise sessions in the gym aren't going to turn Mollie into Barbie and Wors into Ryk Neethling. 

The secret lies in changing your attitude and doing everything slowly but surely – and for the rest of your life. Don't over-exert yourself – no blood, sweat and tears, just take it easy. It is important to choose an activity you enjoy, whether it be dancing, hiking, cycling, rowing, yoga or swimming.  

Although the eating plan will help you to lose weight, you will lose more quickly, get fit, and give your heart health a serious boost if you get moving.

Start here. Right now! 

  • Grab a calendar.
  • Find the date 4 weeks from today and circle it: visualise yourself on that day about 3 to 4kg lighter with your clothes fitting a bit looser. This is your first goal. 
  • Move ahead another 4 weeks and circle that date: in 8 weeks' time you will be another 3 to 4kg, altogether 6 to 8kg, lighter. You will certainly fit into a smaller clothes size. This is your second goal.
  • Weigh and measure yourself and write down your weight in kg, as well as the circumference of your stomach (at the height of your navel) and the circumference of your hips (at the widest spot) next to today's date. 
  • Find a track suit and a loose T-shirt or any exercise clothes that fit comfortably.
  • If you don't have proper running shoes, go to a sport shop and buy yourself a new pair (it doesn't matter if you want to jog or walk), one size bigger than your other shoes. If you don't have exercise pants that fit tightly at least down to your knees to prevent chafing, buy a pair – and forget about jogging in an old pair of rugby shorts – you'll chafe your inner thighs raw. A light sports shirt made from synthetic material that dries quickly is also a plus. Women would also do well to invest in an exercise bra. 
  • Decide on a safe route where you can walk or jog, or join a gym, exercise club or jogging club, or dance club, tennis club, squash club – whatever you enjoy doing. Virgin Active, Planet Fitness, Curves, Shapes for Women, Run/Walk for Life – one of these will be in your area, or follow the programme with an exercise partner.
  • Decide which part of the day will be best for you to exercise, and write it into your diary for each day of the week. This will be your most important appointment for the day – the appointment with yourself – one that may not be postponed or cancelled. 
  • For each goal you reach you need to spoil yourself, regardless if whether it is something big or small: a new pair of exercise socks, a new hairstyle, an aromatherapy massage, a new exercise outfit, a heart rate monitor, a new pair of sunglasses, an MP3 player. Decide what your first treat will be right now.
  • Take a good final look at yourself in the mirror, at your bumps, lumps and fat rolls. Take a photo. You will never look like that again. In four weeks' time you will already be slimmer and more beautiful. And the self-discipline of eating and exercising correctly will spill over to other parts of your life.  
  • Draw up your new grocery list with all your favourite vegetables and fruits, along with chicken, fish, red meat and other foods (have a look at the BeweegSA eating plan).

Your exercise plan

We need two kinds of exercise: cardiovascular exercise that increases your heart rate to make you fit, so that you don't get out of breath as much when you climb stairs; and muscle exercises to make your arm, leg, stomach and all other muscles firmer and stronger, to enable you to to burn fat at a faster rate. The more muscle tissue you have and build, the faster you will lose superfluous weight (in conjunction with an eating plan).

You will achieve the best results if you exercise five to six times a week: three cardiovascular sessions and two to three muscle exercise per week. You can do the cardiovascular exercise and muscle exercise together or you can do them on alternative days. Try to exercise at least three times per week.

Researchers have found that 2 ½ hours' exercise per week is ideal (we will achieve this later in the programme) and that it entails numerous health benefits for your heart, bones, muscles and general health. The list of true health benefits is long.

Cardiovascular exercise

From 3 minutes to more than a 2km brisk walk within 4 weeks: 

In 4 weeks' time, with this easy walk/jogging programme, drawn up with the help of the Sports Science Institute of cape Town and the Run/walk for Life, you will easily be able to briskly walk 2km or jog 2.5km. Stick to the programme and don't try to progress more quickly. By walking or jogging every second day you will get fit more quickly than by jogging every day because you body needs time to recover. Your injury risk will also be a lot smaller. 

Start by walking just one round of a football field or a street block (about 5 minutes) at a comfortable pace at half your maximum effort. (An easy warm-up walk is indicated with an "EW" in the table below and the digit indicates the time in minutes, not the number of kilometres!). 

For the first week (and even a second week if it is necessary), walk every second day at a comfortable pace for 10 minutes until you can start walking briskly of jog for three minutes in-between (at about 70 percent effort, indicated by BW for brisk walk or jog), so that your heart rate can increase. You can do the brisk walk /jogging sessions in-between, all at once, or space them out as a minute's brisk walk or jog in-between.   

Your breathing will be your guide as to how fast you may walk of jog and how long you want to keep it up. This is because your breathing always needs to be deep and regular when you're walking comfortably, but during the brisk walks or jogging sessions you do need to start perspiring and get slightly out of breath – but never so out of breath that you can't talk to your exercise partner.  

Every week you will increase the time you spend walking briskly or jogging (indicated with BW in the table below) by 3-5 minutes per session. Don't try to jog so fast or walk so briskly that you cannot have a conversation.

You will be surprised to find that you're able to jog or walk briskly for longer distances. Always start your exercise session with five minutes' easy walking to warm up, and then increase the pace as you start timing the brisk walk/jogging section. You can start off by doing the jogging/brisk walk section with breaks in between, and later in one go. If you could not complete all three your week's sessions, repeat that week's exercise plan.  

After 4 weeks you will be able to walk or jog 2km briskly, and after 8 weeks you will be able to jog or briskly walk for 40 minutes without stopping. You can already choose a nice 5 to 8km fun run or fun walk to participate in when you're ready. 

Red flag
Note: Get your doctor's approval if you're more than 20kg overweight or have a family history of heart disease, stroke or diabetes. 

Muscle exercise speeds up weight loss

Muscle exercise is just as important as cardiovascular exercise and is actually the best way to speed up your metabolism, enabling your body to burn off excess weight. Men find it easier to build muscle because of their higher testosterone levels, whereas women's muscles just become firmer (your stomach and backside become flatter; your legs and arms thinner; and your shoulders and back more chiselled).   Women just don't have enough testosterone to become powerful Amazons – you would need to swallow handfuls of forbidden anabolic steroids to look like those muscle women in bodybuilding competitions.  

You can do the muscle exercises in a gym or at home with hand weights or resistance bands. 

We also start off gradually with the muscle exercises so that you can slowly get stronger without working yourself to a standstill.

We start off with five basic exercises to get all the large muscle groups in your body going, and then introduce one new exercise every week. You will never do more than seven different muscle exercises on one day.

The right way 

How to go about exercising with weights: 

  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent when you do e.g. biceps curls in a standing position. 
  • Always tighten your stomach muscles to keep your body stable.
  • Concentrate on keeping your back and neck in a straight line, and your shoulder blades back and down as if you're trying to hold something with your imaginary wings.
  • Keep your upper body as still as you can and try only to move your arms. 
  • Don't allow your body to move along with the movement of the weight/s.
  • Move the weight in one slow, concentrated movement. Don't swing it.
  • Do muscle exercises at least twice a week, one from each series. You can do the muscle exercises on the same days as your cardiovascular exercises or on the resting days. 
  • Each time, choose a weight that enables you to the first few of each series with ease, and the last ones involving some effort, but not too much. 

Your exercise library

5 exercises for the first week (with or without weights)  

1. Squats for the buttocks and legs

Stand upright with your shoulders back, back straight, stomach in, feet 30cm apart with your toes pointing forward. Slowly take one step forward with your right leg and slowly move your left knee to the floor (or as close as you can get). Push yourself into the upright position and step back with your right leg.

One set of exercises: repeat 10 times with your right leg in front, rest for 30 counts and repeat 10 times with your left leg in front. Repeat the full set.

2. Buttock lift (for a firmer backside and stronger back)

Lie flat on your back with your hands behind your head, heels together on a low bench so that your knees are bent at an angle of 90 degrees. Contract your glutes (buttock muscles) and lift your backside off the floor so that your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Don't allow your chest to drop.

Slowly lift your body up and down. 

One set: repeat 10 times, rest for 30 counts and repeat 15 times. 

Repeat the full set.

3. Bicep curls with hand weight or elastic bands (for beautiful upper arms)

Stand in the usual, comfortable position (stomach in, backside in, shoulders back, back straight, feet hip width apart, knees slightly bent). With your arms along your sides, take a weight in each hand, palms facing upward and elbows slightly bent, or stand on a resistance band with the handles in your hands.   

Hold your arms tightly against your body and curl your hands towards your shoulders, one hand at a time or both together. Move your hands back slowly. Keep your upper body still. Don't move your shoulder blades or arch your back.

One set: Repeat 10 times with one arm, rest for 30 counts and repeat 10 times with the other arm. (Choose a light weight so that the movement is fluid and doesn't become jerky.) 

Repeat the full set. 

4. Sideways lift for the shoulders (for beautiful arms and shoulders)

Stand upright with your feet hip width apart, shoulders back, stomach muscles tight and knees slightly bent. Hold a weight in each hand, palms facing your body. 

Slowly lift your arms outwards with your elbows slightly bent until your hands are at the same height as your shoulders with your palms facing down. 

Drop your arms slowly. Keep your upper body still throughout the exercise. 

One set = repeat 10 times, rest for 30 counts and repeat 10 times.  

Repeat the whole set.

5. Stomach sit-ups (for a flatter stomach)

Lie flat on your back and press your back flat against the floor. Hold your hands behind your neck or across your chest, with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. 

Lift your head and shoulders from the floor in a smooth movement by flexing your stomach muscles. Don't use your hands to lift your head. Slowly move back to the starting position. 

One set = 15 repetitions, rest for 30 counts, 15 repeats

Do one set.

One new exercise per week is added.

New exercise, week 2:

6. Triceps push-ups: Sit upright on a bench with a straight back and feet flat on the floor, slightly apart. Tighten your stomach muscles and keep your back upright. Hold the hand weight behind your head with your bent elbow against your ear.  

Straighten your bent elbow and push the weight up above your head. Keep your head and upper body as still as possible.

One set = 15 repeats of exercise, rest for 30 counts and repeat 15 times.

New exercise, week 3:

7. Push-ups (for the chest, shoulders and arms): Lie flat on your stomach on the floor. Place your hands right next to your shoulders, support yourself on your knees (later on your feet) and push yourself up. This is your starting position. Keep your stomach muscles tight and your back straight, and lower your upper  body to just above the floor by bending your arms. 

Lower yourself on your hands and knees. Push yourself up again by straightening your arms, but don't lock your elbow joint.

One set = 10 repetitions, rest for 30 counts, 10 repetitions

Repeat one set. 

New exercise, week 4:

8. Cross-over sit-ups (for stomach muscles)

Lie flat on your back and press your back against the floor/mat. Put your left hand behind your head and pull in your left leg. Place your right ankle against your left knee. Contract your stomach muscles and pull your left shoulder towards your right knee, in a cross-over movement. 

Hold this position for 10 counts and drop back to the starting position.

One set = 15 repetitions, rest for 30 counts and repeat 15 times.

Do one set.

 
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