You hear it all the time: You need to exercise. It’s a broad statement with little instruction, especially for those who are getting started. Just the thought of working out can turn some people off completely. But you shouldn’t be intimidated by fitness.
First and foremost, always check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program. Secondly, although changes will not happen overnight, with a positive attitude and a bit of effort, you can succeed!
Now that you have committed to exercise, where do you begin? First, cut through the hype. At any given time, people are bombarded with advertisements touting the “Next Big Thing” in exercise equipment. You know the drill: In just five minutes a day, you can go from this to THIS! You don’t need thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment in your home. You can get started with a pair of sneakers and comfortable clothes.
Next, start small. It’s easier than you think to fit fitness into your daily routine. Here are a few simple suggestions:
- Watching TV? Skip the fridge run during commercials and march in place instead. During an hour-long program, you can sneak in almost 15 minutes of activity.
- Take a 10-minute walk on your lunch break or after dinner. It’s a good way to catch up with co-workers, family, or friends. And, using the buddy system can help motivate you to stick with a fitness routine.
- Consider climbing the stairs instead of riding the elevator or escalator.
- At the kids’ sports practice? Take a lap or two around the field.
Cardio, strength training, warm up, cool down, sets, reps? It’s hard to begin if you don’t understand what people are talking about. Learning the lingo is half the battle. WebMD’s Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Exercise offers easy-to-understand definitions of common exercise terms.
Slow and steady
As you incorporate exercise more and more into your life, slowly add to your routine.
If you are just doing cardio, consider adding strength training. Women sometimes associate lifting weights with huge muscles, which might deter them from trying it. Building muscle doesn’t mean bulking up. Strength training can help you slim down and get toned.
The key to strength training, as with any exercise, is safety first. A Mayo Clinic strength-training guide offers the basics for learning proper form and not overdoing it. In addition, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) has a beginner workout routine, complete with photo illustrations.
It’s hard to stick with something if it seems like a chore. The more variety you include in your routine, the more likely you are to keep going. Choose activities that fit your personality. Hate running? Don’t do it! Try swimming, dancing, or roller skating instead.
Not interested in lifting weights? There are plenty of muscle-building exercises that use your body weight instead. Wall pushups tone your arms. Planks build your core. Squats work those leg muscles.
As you gain confidence, you can explore new options. Check your local community centers for classes you would like to try. At the Healthy Living Center in Albany, you can give Zumba®, Pilates, cycling, and more a shot. CDPHP® members have access to a variety of free fitness classes as well.
Track your progress
Remember, exercise is an investment in you. You get out of it what you put in. So, make the commitment and start today!