It can be a little overwhelming to start a new fitness program because of all the options available – exercise classes, diets, fitness gadgets, gyms, and more. To help you start your fitness journey, here are some simple steps to follow:
Assess your fitness level
Assessing and recording your baseline fitness level can give you benchmarks for measuring progress. Consider finding out…
- Your pulse before and after you walk one mile
- How long it takes to walk one mile
- How many pushups you can do in a minute
- How far you can reach forward while seated on the floor with your legs straight in front
- Your waist size, measured around your abdomen just above your hipbone
Design your fitness program
Avoid setting unrealistic goals; instead have a plan that is attainable. When designing your fitness program consider these points:
Have a goal.
Are you starting a fitness program to lose weight? Or do you have another goal such as completing a 5k race? Having set goals can help you gauge your progress and keep you on track.
Gather your equipment.
Start with athletic shoes, choosing a pair designed for the activity you have in mind. If you plan on purchasing exercise equipment, choose something that’s practical and easy to use.
Create a balanced routine.
Most adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. Adults also need one or more days of strength training weekly.
Build activity into your daily routine.
Finding time to exercise is the most difficult challenge most people face when beginning a fitness program. Schedule time to exercise as you would any other appointment. Or watch your favorite show while exercising. You don’t have to do all your exercise at one time. Shorter but more frequent sessions have aerobic benefits too! Break your sessions up into 10 or 15 minute sessions, adding up to 30 minutes.
Go at your own pace.
It you are new to exercise, start slowly. If you have a previous injury or medical condition, consult your doctor for help designing a fitness program that gradually improves range of motion, strength, and endurance. If you feel any pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or nausea, take a break. You may be pushing yourself too hard.
Allow time to recover.
Many people give up when their muscles and joints become sore or injured from overdoing it. Plan time between exercise sessions to allow your body to rest and recover. Give yourself time to warm up and cool down with easy walking or gentle stretching. Work your way up to 30-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
Monitor your progress.
Retake your personal fitness assessment 4-6 weeks after you start your program. If you lose motivation, set new goals or try a new activity. Exercising with a friend or taking a class at a fitness center may help, too!
Jamie Verdini is a HealthEase Fitness Specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Temple University. She is also a certified ACSM Health Fitness Specialist, AAAI Personal Trainer, and a licensed Zumba Instructor. She enjoys working with her clients one -on-one and also teaching group exercise classes like Boot Camp and Zumba.