You don’t have to wait until the new year rolls around to come up with a fitness routine. It’s true – there’s no time like the present. Even if you’re out of shape, it’s possible to get started exercising and keep up a fitness routine. Here are some steps to help you get started.
Be Honest About Your Fitness Levels
Everyone, when they pick up a fitness routine is at a different level, and that’s okay! Even if you’re not at the same place as your friend or neighbor, there’s nothing wrong with that. Being honest about your fitness levels now will save you from frustration down the line.
Some factors to track early on can help you set benchmarks and goals. You will want to consider
- How long does it take to walk/run a mile or 1.6 kilometers?
- How long does it take to walk/run 1.5 miles or 2.4 kilometers?
- What is your pulse rate after walking a mile/1.6 kilometers?
- How many pushups can you do in a single sitting?
- What does your body need?
- Do you have joint pain or asthma? It’s important to give thought to these when designing a fitness plan, as it could have a serious impact on your health. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your doctor.
Think About Your Goals
Next, you will want to consider the “why” behind the increased attention to exercise. What are your personal reasons for starting a fitness routine and what are you hoping to achieve? Do you want to run a mile in less than 10 minutes? Do you want to lose weight? Are you looking to get ahead of your health? Your end targets here will help you with the next step.
It’s important to ensure your goals are achievable. Remember: You can always move the goalposts after you reach an objective! Breaking down large goals into bite-sized goals also helps make sure you’re staying on track and you’re not biting off more than you can chew.
Design a Fitness Program
Now that you know your fitness levels and what exactly you hope to achieve when it comes to your health, you can start to design a program that works for you.
It’s generally recommended that adults get “150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week,” or some combination of the two. Don’t try to do it all in one day though – this should be spread out throughout the week, and you’re always welcome to go beyond the recommended time. 30 minutes a day is an excellent way to stay on top of your routine.
If you’re not quite able to reach that milestone just yet, that’s okay! Not everyone will be able to sustain 30 minutes of exercise out of the gate. So work up to it. Start with 10 or 15. You’ll eventually make it to 30!
You will also want to give thought to the best exercises to achieve your goals. If you want to run in a marathon, walking and running are two musts, but strength exercises like planks and overhead forward lunges can be beneficial as well. If you want to lose weight, walking, running, cycling, and swimming can be excellent choices.
But don’t forget to give allowances to your health. Your health restrictions may keep you to a certain type of exercise. If you have knee pain, for example, low impact exercises can be best (like swimming).
Even if you don’t have health restrictions, if you need assistance designing your fitness program, talk to your doctor. They will be able to help you craft the perfect plan for your goals, needs, and wants.
Throw Excuses Out the Window
Especially early on, it can be easy to grab onto those excuses not to exercise and hold on for dear life. Which of these have you told yourself?
- I don’t have time.
◦ Schedule time each and every day! If you find you still don’t have time for this, work exercise into your daily routine.
- I’m too tired today/this week.
◦ Exercise can actually reduce fatigue.
- I’m too old to start exercising.
◦ It’s never too late to start.
- I’m too out of shape.
◦ Exercise will help you get back in shape.
- It’s too difficult for me.
◦ It will be difficult early on, but will get easier with time.
- It’s too painful.
◦ You may have to switch up exercises if you find them to be painful and find one that works for you.
- There are no types of exercises I enjoy.
◦ There are more exercises than simply running or pushups!
- I find exercise boring.
◦ Consider exercising with a friend or listening to music while working out.
- I’m just not an athletic type.
◦ You don’t have to be athletic to stay in shape.
- I can’t afford a gym.
◦ You can create the perfect workout routine right at home.
...But Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Excuses absolutely shouldn’t be used during your exercise routine, but you also shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. You don’t want to hold onto the “all or nothing” attitude, where if you miss a day, you think all your effort has gone to waste and give up. It’s okay to make mistakes, miss a day, or even miss a week.
There will be days you miss, especially early on, and there may be times you’re in too much pain to exercise or you’re sick. And that’s perfectly fine. Habits aren’t set in stone overnight and it’s alright to take a day off. It takes time to get rid of bad habits and put good ones in their place. Starting slowly is a great way to ensure you don’t burn yourself out and take on more than you can chew.
No matter your age or fitness levels, now is the perfect time to start out on a new exercise routine. Thinking about your goals and keeping excuses at bay will help set you up for success!