Posted by: Martie | 2008/10/20

Never exercised

Dear FitnessDoc
I am a 34 year old woman and I have never exercised in my life. My BMI is 21.6. I am flabby and shapeless.
Last week I started a fitness program that starts with walking and resting for a certain number of days, whereafter you start adding short periods of jogging to some days of walking, with this progressing to longer jogging and shorter walking periods. You know what I mean.
I would like to know the following:
1) After walking for about 10 to 15 minutes my hands swell up - you can actually see it and it feels very uncomfortable. Why is this?
2) They say start with three minutes jogging. I honestly cannot see how I would be able to jog for three min. The longest I could jog was for 1:30 min (300 meters) and then I could not breathe for a long time after that - I almost " died" . Why is it that I cannot jog? Should I start with shorter jogging periods?
3) When I jog my lungs start burning real bad. Why does my lungs burn? Will this go away eventually?
4) Will skipping rope help my to get fit? If so how often and for what periods? Are there any drawbacks to skipping rope?
I am new to this fitness thing and would appreciate any help.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

HI martie

1) It's quite common - it happens because your body is changing the circulation to allow you to exercise better - it sends blood to the muscles and the skin, to help you cool off when you train, and one of the consequences is that your extremities can swell up. It will go away in time, because your body will become better at controlling it. So for what it's worth, it goes away after a while, just give it about a month or so.

2) That's fine, you must start with what you are capable of. If that means 90 seconds, then that's perfect. Don't force it to the point where you hate the training. You will adapt and you will become better at it and in a few months time, you'll look back on this and wonder what the fuss was about! So just hang in there, do what you are capable of, and in time, your body will improve and so will the training.

3) That's quite normal as well, it's a sign of the same thing - your body is not used to the exercise. Like I said above, just give it time, and it will get better. For now, what you might consider is to not jog, but just walk briskly. So in your programme, where it suggests you jog for 3 minutes, I would suggest you walk at a faster pace than normal for the 3 minutes. Do this for 2 weeks, and then maybe in week 3, you can start to jog very slowly. Just give your body the chance to adapt.

4) Skipping is very high intensity. You'll find this out when you do it - it's very difficult to do for more than a few minutes. Because of this, it's a good way to finish a training session, or to warmup, but it's not a self-standing training session, because it's just so incredibly hard! So my advice is to skip when you're finished your walks. And then do it in an interval session, where you skip for maybe one minute, then rest for two minutes. Then skip for one, rest for two, repeating this a total of four times. That'll be very difficult, but it's a good way to end off. Just take care to jump on a softer surface, not tar or concrete, but grass or gravel if you can.

Good luck

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