How To Start Exercising
If you want to start exercising, good for you! But it’s vital to know how to start exercising without setting yourself up for failure. Diving into the wrong kind of workout program, or trying to work out more intensely than you are physically prepared to do safely, can quickly lead to misery, injury, and ending up back on the couch instead of the gym. In order to start exercising the right way, consider these important points:
- Your likes and dislikes
- How much time you can realistically dedicate for your first few weeks of exercise
- Your physical and medical condition
- Whether you want to work out in a gym or at home
- What exercise equipment you will have available at your workout locations
- Your goals – Why do you want to start an exercise program?
Why You Should Start Exercising
While several of the health benefits of exercise will be achieved over time, such as reducing the risk of chronic disease, achieving and maintaining healthy body weight and muscle mass, lowering your blood pressure, etc., other benefits can be gained quite early into your fitness journey.
When you start exercising, you will begin to experience an almost immediate uplift in your mood. The reason for this is that physical exercise is shown to have a strong effect on lowering anxiety. In addition, you’ll also start experiencing an increase in your overall mental health, sleep patterns, energy levels throughout the day, and even in your sex life, among others. In short, exercising regularly is critical to healthy living, regardless of age, gender, background, and in most cases, past medical history.
However, there are several tips for beginners whenever they consider introducing an exercise program into their daily activities. As many of us know or have already experienced, choosing an exercise routine and sticking to it over the long-term will require some degree of discipline and determination. So, if you don’t know where and how to begin, this introductory beginner’s guide will tell you what you need to know about how to get started and how to keep doing it.
Don’t Try to Go From Zero to Hero Immediately
The first thing to remember whenever you start an exercise routine is that something is always better than nothing. A 15-minute brisk walk around the block is better than sitting on the couch playing video games. A couple of minutes of stretching or light exercise is better than no activity at all. In general, for most adults, the Mayo Clinic’s recommendation is that they do no less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. If we are to divide that by five days, that’s 30 minutes per workday. What’s more, this half-hour can also be broken down into two 15-minute sessions or three 10-minute sessions at a time. That’s all fine and good, and should be a short-term goal for anyone starting an exercise program after a prolonged layoff.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of people who are so pumped up by the idea of changing their lifestyle and focusing on health and fitness that they try to go from being a couch potato to a full-fledged fitness program on day one. As good as these intentions may be, this strategy has a very high failure rate. Leading a sedentary lifestyle for a considerable amount of time means that your body has, for lack of a better word, atrophied. This means that your muscles have shrunk in size, and your bones have become less dense, while your ligaments and tendons have lost much of their elasticity. Therefore, going from zero to an intense daily workout routine can lead to injury and burnout.
Another disadvantage of doing too much too soon is the dreaded yo-yo, on-again/off-again roller coaster effect. In other words, you start in force, but soon you stop. That’s because you either injured yourself, you found the exercises too challenging, or you simply lost your motivation several weeks into it. Whatever the case, you’ll be back to a sluggish lifestyle in no time. It’s therefore advisable that you start slow – with basic exercises and plenty of warmups and physical preparation – until you build consistency and create good habits. Statistically speaking, it takes roughly 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic. This doesn’t mean that you need to keep the same basic fitness routine throughout this entire time, but, instead, take a baby-step approach when pushing yourself to do more, and gradually increase the amount and difficulty of your workout.
With proper instruction from a fitness professional, you will be able to avoid all of the pitfalls mentioned earlier. Certified personal trainers will know exactly what types of exercise to incorporate into your workout program so that you will still be challenged without risking injury. They will also know how to keep you motivated, and how to make your new exercise program fun and engaging.
Find the Right Kind of Exercise for Your Abilities and Personality
Another key aspect of starting a routine (and sticking to it!) is to actually find the right kind of exercises that fit your abilities, fitness level, and personality. This may require some trial-and-error, but the results will be well worth the effort. Listen to your body. Let it guide you when determining which exercises are right for you. The worst thing you can do is to choose something at random from YouTube that will only lead to a miserable experience down the line.
Among the different types of exercise, we can include the following:
- Aerobic Exercise – This usually makes up the core of a fitness routine, revolving around periods of continuous movement. Some examples include jogging, dancing, swimming, power walking, etc.
- Calisthenics – These types of body-weight exercises are done without any gym equipment, and are based on total body movements at a medium difficulty. Typical calisthenic exercises are sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, and lunges.
- Strength Training – Exercises against resistance – such as weight lifting, training with exercise tubing, and plyometrics – all fall in this category. They help increase muscle strength and maintain bone density.
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT) – These will include repetitions of high-intensity exercises performed in short bursts, which will be followed by rest periods or low-intensity exercises. This style of workout is best for metabolic conditioning i.e. “getting in shape”!
- Flexibility – Yoga or individual muscle stretches are used to help with muscle recovery, maintaining an optimal range of motion, as well as helping to prevent injury. Yoga and stretching are great ways to focus on your breathing too!
- Balance and Stability Exercises – Exercises such as tai chi, Pilates, balance work, or core strengthening exercises will help improve coordination and balance and improve body awareness.
Based on what you want to achieve, there are plenty of exercises to choose from. However, not all of these examples are for everyone. Some people may enjoy weight training while hating calisthenics. Others, on the other hand, may dislike yoga but enjoy doing tai chi and swimming. The key is to find the types of exercises that you feel good for you, and not to follow fitness trends just because others do them. It’s important that you make it fun; otherwise, you will lose your motivation.
How to Get the Most for Your Time and Effort
Having the right program will generate good results without too much wasted time and effort. That said, there may be some people out there who don’t have enough time to dedicate to a long training session. In this case, if you had to pick one, strength training is better than cardio. To truly maximize your results in the shortest amount of time possible, it’s best to go for a personalized fitness program that will take into account all the issues we’ve mentioned. A personal trainer will have the necessary experience to create a custom workout routine that will perfectly fit not only your schedule, but also your fitness level, preferences, and medical history.
If you plan to start transforming your body with the guidance of fitness experts, get your free no-obligation consultation. Tell us more about you, and we’ll tell you how we can help.