Ready to start exercising? Great! Physical activity benefits your physical and mental health in so many ways, it should be an important part of your lifestyle. However, there is so much information out there, and our lives or so busy already, it can seem overwhelming to begin. It doesn’t have to be so complicated or take up that much time. Whether you are getting back to working out after some time off, or are beginning an exercise habit for the first time, here are some things to keep in mind as you get started.
1. Get Physical – a physical that is. You might need an actual physical from your doctor before you start exercising. Anyone with major health issues or health risks should get clearance from their doctor prior to beginning any exercise routine. No matter your medical condition, you can probably workout in some way. But it’s best to get those details and any restrictions from your doctor.
2. Set A Goal – What is your workout goal? Do you want to run a 5k? Lower your blood pressure? Hold a plank for a minute? Think of goals that are specific and measurable that you can work toward and achieve in a shorter period of time. For example, instead of saying a large overarching goal like “workout more” or “lose 100 pounds”, make a more specific goal of exercising twice a week to start.
3. Start Slow – Starting out too aggressively may result in injury. Doing too much too soon is not good for your body and will not provide instant results. Exercise should be a lifelong habit so it should be sustainable and something you can stick with. Slowly progress the time you exercise and the weight you use.
4. Plan a Balanced Routine – a good exercise routine will contain some cardiovascular activity, strength conditioning and stretching.
- When starting out with cardiovascular activity like walking, running or the elliptical, shoot for 20-30 minutes at a pace where you can carry on a conversation if you had to but couldn’t sing a song. If you can sing, you aren’t going fast enough. For heart health, the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week. According to the CDC, moderate intensity means your heart rate should be between 50% - 70% of your maximum heart rate. An approximate way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.
- Strength conditioning should be done at least twice a week. Start with working each major muscle group with a weight that you can lift for 10-12 repetitions with the last reps being very difficult. Don’t work the same muscle group on consecutive days and be sure to warm up with a 5 minute walk or other dynamic activity prior to strength training.
- Stretching should be done after each workout. Static stretches for each major muscle group should be held for 10-30 seconds.
Don’t be intimidated by all the information, all of the gym equipment or all the different ways to exercise! It can be as simple as adding walking 20-30 minutes to your day. Follow the tips above and get started! Need some help? Have questions? Contact me today!