Starting an effective exercise routine doesn’t have to be hard. Even a little activity can go a long way toward becoming more fit, especially if you’ve been mostly sedentary.
“The first thing to think about is that instead of it being a New Year’s resolution, it should be a lifestyle resolution,” says Mike Jaudes, owner and president of The Fitness Edge. “There are so many people in the first part of the year who race to their local health club or the fitness equipment store, and they build a giant gym or buy a VIP membership. They end up going for two months, but then they don’t continue.”
Jaudes understands that people can become frustrated if they don’t notice the desired changes in their physique after a few weeks of exercising. “But the biggest thing you have to exercise initially when you begin any fitness program is patience,” he says. Exercising creates positive health benefits before your waist begins to shrink. The key is to develop a fitness lifestyle in which activity, along with a healthy diet, become second nature.
Dale Huff, co-owner of NutriFormance, agrees that consistency is important. “The easiest thing to do is lay your clothes out the day before, and if you’re a morning person, exercise first thing in the morning,” he says. You don’t need to set aside an hour or more, especially at first. “Start with whatever you can do,” Huff says. “It might be 10 or 20 minutes in the beginning.”
Huff advises setting a fitness goal to work toward in order to maintain momentum and motivation. Signing up for a 5K walk or run, for instance, may be enough to spur you to train on a regular basis. Scheduling workouts and sticking with your appointments, especially when you are accountable to a fitness trainer or workout buddy, can give you the push needed to follow through on good intentions.
Most experts agree that weightbearing exercise is important for a variety of reasons. It strengthens bones, increases muscle mass and burns fat. Walking or doing basic exercises like push-ups use body weight as resistance. More advanced routines may involve free weights or machines. In this case, it’s a good idea to schedule some time with a certified fitness trainer who can instruct you in proper form and develop a program based on your individual needs and goals.
“Try to stick with natural movements,” advises Mark Whitener, coowner and trainer at Gateway CrossFit. “Push-ups, sit-ups, body-weight squats. These are natural movements, but unfortunately many people don’t know how to do them properly, and if it’s not done properly, it’s a good way to get injured.” He subscribes to the CrossFit protocol of “functional movements executed at high intensity.”
The bottom line is simply staying active, Whitener says. “Don’t sit around. Stay off that couch. Just don’t sit still.”
So check with your primary-care physician to make sure you’re good to go, and then get up and move!