Learn the Steps to Exercise and Fitness
By: 2SC Staff
Many people wonder how to start exercising. It’s a perfectly natural question if you are a person who has never taken part of a formal fitness program or if it has been a long time since you’ve been to a gym. The health benefits connected with exercising have long been established, particularly in the area of mental health. If you are like most folks however, getting started with an exercise program can seem daunting.
Is there anything you can do to make the process easier? The answer is absolutely, positively – yes!!
What follows are seven simple steps for starting an exercise program. Before you engage in any of the suggestions listed here, make sure that you are examined by your medical doctor and gain clearance for physical activity. If you have a pre-existing health condition, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, it is especially important to talk to your doctor first before starting exercise.
The seven steps mentioned below infuse elements of physical activity with the construct of mindfulness based living. Our hope is to help you on multiple levels that go beyond what you see in the mirror. OK – are you ready for the 7 steps for how to start an exercise program? Let’s jump right in!
1. Start cautiously and moderately
One of the first things to help you get mentally prepared for starting a fitness program is to see the work you will be doing as a process and not necessarily as an outcome. If your ultimate goal for example is to lose belly-fat, it might be helpful remind yourself that change doesn’t happen overnight.
If you put too much pressure on yourself to reach your goal at the start of your program, you run the risk of becoming overwhelmed and dropping out of whatever exercise routine that you started. Some people find it helpful to begin training with an exercise specialist, such as a personal trainer, to get the ball rolling.
2. Pick an activity you really enjoy
Not everyone is a weightlifter. If you have tried resistance training at the gym before and found that it wasn’t something you really enjoyed, there are plenty of other physical activities to choose from. Think about what you have naturally gravitated towards during the course of your lifetime. Did you enjoy swimming when you were in school? Was there a time in your life when bike riding was enjoyable?
The idea here is to focus on an activity that you look forward to. Exercise should never seem like punishment. The more positive the emotions connected to the physical activity you want to engage in, the more likely you are to stick with it!
3. Select a realistic time of day to exercise
One of the reasons people fall off the exercise bandwagon is because they pick a time that doesn’t work for their schedule. The very first think you want to do is look at your calendar and see when you have regular openings for your fitness activities. Aim for 3-5 days a week as a starting point and gradually add to your schedule. Block out 30 minutes if possible and more if you are able to do so.
FYI: Some people find that by exercising first thing in the morning, they are able to make “fitness happen” because the activity is taken care of at the start of the day. Morning exercises have the added benefit of attaching something positive to the day’s start.
Others find adding exercise to the middle part of the day the most realistic, such as during a lunch hour. Finally, there are lots of folks who have found that exercising at the end of the day is the most realistic, simply because that’s the best time for their personal situation. Our suggestion under this point is to experiment a little and be open to making adjustments. The point is to commit to exercise and let the rest flow organically.
4. Dress appropriately for exercise
This point may seem like common sense but lots of people forget to wear the proper attire for fitness activities. If you are exercising outdoors and in a cold weather environment, like Chicago, you need to keep weather conditions in mind. On the flipside, if you live in a hot environment or will be physically active at higher altitudes, what you wear will be equally important.
If you are exercising indoors, you still want to be mindful of what you are wearing. Generally speaking, loose fitting attire is best. This allows for greater blood circulation and will prevent you from feeling restricted.
5. Lean into your support system
Sharing your exercise goals with others is an excellent way to keep yourself on track with fitness. Friends, family members and even co-workers can serve as a kind of personal “board of accountability”. Your support system can also be used to help you remain motivated on those days where you simply are not “feeling it”.
One thing to consider under this point is to exercise with a partner who shares similar health goals. If you know someone who has been thinking of starting a fitness program, why not speak with them and see if they might join you? Exercise partners help to promote that word we previously used – accountability. Workout partners are also great for mindful muscle building.
6. Set realistic fitness goals
This too may seem like we are stating the obvious but it is worth mentioning. One of the primary reasons people abandon an exercise program is because they set goals that are unrealistic. Specifically, we are talking about over ambitious goals, such as shedding 25 pounds in two months. When you choose something like this, you are setting yourself up for potential failure.
Setting realistic goals means identifying mini-goals and then achieving them. This will help you to remain motivated and offer concrete yardsticks from which to judge your progress. Again, start off small and work towards larger goals. For example, what would it be like to have a goal of losing 1 or 2 pounds per week with the ultimate goal of dropping 25 pounds over the course of four months?
7. Prevent injuries
We won’t lie to you – if you start an exercise program, there is a good chance you are going to start feeling sore at the beginning. This is completely normal. What you want to be mindful of are the warning signs of a potential injury. Pay attention to joints, muscles and tendons. If you feel pinching or tightness while conducting the exercise, stop immediately. If they pain persists, make sure that you contact your doctor.
Should you choose to partake in strength training, be mindful of who is working out next to you. Also, be aware of some of the more uncommon gym accidents that can happen. If your health club has a set of posted rules for members, it might be a good idea to check them out before you start your program.
Summing Things Up
Starting an exercise program is one of the healthiest things you will ever do. If you are looking for additional tips on basic ways to gain more physical activity in your life, we would like to recommend the book, Exercise for Mood and Anxiety.
Inside, you will find page after page of practical advice on basic exercises that you can do (many outside of a gym) that are designed to benefit you physically, emotionally and psycho-spiritually.
Having resources for positive reinforcement, such as the book mentioned here, can go a long way with keeping yourself on track on those days where motivation wanes. We hope you found the 7 steps for starting an exercise program listed here useful. Think of exercise as a journey rather than a destination.
With the right amount of commitment and focus, you should start seeing results in no time! Thanks for visiting 2nd Story Counseling online.