WHERE TO START WHEN YOU HAVE NEVER EXERCISED
“Where do I start? I’ve never exercised before.” This is a common question you hear, especially from people who are much older and just starting to get active for the first time. If you have never had an active lifestyle or exercised before, it may be a challenge to know what you need to do and how to do it. You will notice in the beginning it’ll be a struggle and that is why it is so important to start small and ease into it.
To put it to you straight, you do not have a choice. If you want to maintain a healthy weight, body composition, mobility, and good general health, you must move your body.
First, decide to do it no matter what. Why do you want to start exercising? What are your goals?
- You want to lose weight
- You want to promote healthy joints and mobility as you age
- You want better cardiovascular health
- You want to be a good example to your kids
- You want to become stronger and more flexible
- And the list goes on and on….
Once you have your why, it can still seem overwhelming of how to start. You do not even know what you may or may not like. This can mean exploring and taking your time to decide what you like and what you enjoy doing. When you see people running in your neighborhood or when you go to the gym, just keep in mind that everyone started somewhere. Rest assured that when you see these people, they did not look that way when they started, they worked hard to get to where they are now, just like you will.
Your exercise routine is about YOU. It is about your individual goals, your preferences, and your interests. What matters is finding a fitness program that works for you. The good news is that there are a lot to choose from.
Break it down so you can begin an enjoyable program that you will stick to in the long haul.
- Identify Your “Why”
This is a huge part of staying motivated, consistent, and positive when you first begin. This may take some serious brainstorming on your part, but it is vital to find a reason that is meaningful enough to you for it to propel you forward. This is about your goals and what feels right for you. Try not to get caught up into what everyone else is doing.
- Invest in Proper Gear
Exactly what kind of gear you need will depend on what kind of exercise you want to try. But there are a few universal “staple” items that you can get. This will help motivate you. Invest in a pair of comfortable, supportive athletic shoes. The best way to make this decision is to try on a bunch and see what feels most comfortable to you. Some stores offer special fittings. Females will want to find a snug, supportive sports bra, and a couple of sweat-wicking tops along with pants or shorts. Do not go overboard in spending money until you know more of what you like.
- Start Off Small and Ease into It
When you begin, think about long-term consistency. Think about how many training days you can realistically fit into your life. Hopefully, you will work your way up to 3-4 days a week. But it does not mean that you must start there. Try not to get into thinking that you need 1-2 hours to get your work out in. It can be less than an hour and have great short term and long-term benefits. Another trick is to schedule it on your calendar, this way you can be sure to have set time aside for your workout.
What time should you work out? The best time is always the one that fits your lifestyle, your preferences, and your energy level.
The way to find out is to experiment with various times to see when you feel your best and when you are most like to follow through and do it. You may like morning workouts since once you do it in the morning, it is out of the way and nothing else can come along to sideline it. For some people early mornings turn them off and they like to carve out 30 minutes to an hour after the workday.
- Learn The Basics
Once you find a type of workout that you like and works for you, do not go “all-in” right away. Take the time to learn the basics so you can safely progress. The beginner guides and classes will give you a foundation to make sure you are doing it correctly.
It should be challenging but not so difficult that you feel defeated.
If you are in a class, most instructors will give you modifications during the class. Do not be afraid to modify the exercise to your level. It is easy to want to keep up with everyone else but meet yourself where you are. Never feel ashamed of listening to your body and taking breathers when you need to.
Remember 5 minutes is better than 0.
- Try Hiring a Trainer
One on one options are good for beginners, and it keeps you accountable. They will guide you into a program and provide individualized help. Consider booking sessions with a trainer to show you proper exercises to get started. They will show you ones that are right for you with your current skills and abilities. New Vitality Centers can recommend a trainer for you. Most gyms collaborate with personal trainers and can also connect you with one.
6. Add Stretching Daily
A good exercise program includes a flexibility program. It will also increase your performance in any sport or exercise. It will naturally increase the strength of your core to help in aging. Focus on stretching the muscles that are worked during your workout. If you worked your lower body, focus on stretching your legs and glute areas. If you worked your upper body, focus stretching on your upper body. When you stretch, try to hold the stretch for at least 20 seconds. It may be a little uncomfortable, but it should not hurt. Once you begin stretching regularly you will find that you will become more flexible and be able to hold the stretch longer and even stretch further. You will also notice that if you do not stretch after you have been doing so, it will feel like something is missing.
- Have a Game Plan
Like anything else, it is important to have a plan. Even if you are super motivated to your new fitness goals, some days, it is hard. Sometimes it is good to have a friend as a “check in” partner to hold you accountable. Another strategy is to get your work out clothes and essentials together the day before so it takes less time preparing. Just make sure you continue to listen to your body. If you have been going strong and need a break, it is fine. Your new workout routine should not add stress, it should be a helpful self-care activity that gives you more energy and makes you feel positive and strong.