Beginning a fitness schedule might be one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health. Physical action can decrease your danger of infection, improve balance, help with mental clarity, improve your quality of sleep, and of course, tone your body. Getting started with a workout regimen can be a dauntless task. Where should you start? How often should you workout? For how long each day? I am going to cover all of this, in an effort to clear a pathway for those looking to improve their health, mentally and physically.
Assess Your Fitness Level
You likely have some thought of how fit you are. In any case, surveying and recording standard wellness scores can give you benchmarks against which to gauge your progress. In order to assess your body composition, flexibility, and overall aerobic and muscular fitness levels, start of by recording the following as your starting points:
- Pulse rate before and after walking a mile
- How long it takes you to walk a mile
- How long it takes you to run a mile
- Number of pullups, situps and pushups you can do in a single session
- Measurements for each of the following
- Chest (just under the armpits)
- Waist (just above the hipbone)
- Thigh (at the largest point)
- Lastly, calculate your current body mass index or BMI (there are tools online that can help with this)
Create A Fitness Plan
In order to get the most of your time, it is important to create a workout plan that you can manage and will stick with. It’s easy to say that you will workout every day, but without a plan daily workouts will turn into “I’ll just do it tomorrow, skipping today won’t hurt me.”. Before you know it, you will have dropped to a single day a week or none at all.
In order to put together a plan that you can manage, I suggest thinking about the following points:
- Fitness goals – Why are you starting a fitness plan? Is it to lose weight? To run a marathon? Or, is it because you want to improve your overall health? Having a clear goal and being honest with yourself will help you stay motivated.
- Fitness routine – It is important to combine different types of workouts in order to gain the full benefits. A good starting point is about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day of the week, if possible. In addition to cardio, incorporating a strength training routine for major muscle groups is also important. In order to build strength, three to four days a week should be spent working on different muscle groups. I will provide an example routine schedule below.
- Start small and progress over time – If you are just starting out, it is important to start off small and improve gradually. For those with an existing injury or medical condition, please consult your doctor or therapist before starting any fitness routine. These professionals can help you design a plan that will work for you.
- Find the time – Finding the time to workout can be a challenge for just about anyone. Work, family, friends, and other obligations will always be a part of your day. In order to make sure that you provide time to workout, you should schedule it just like you would anything else. Write down your schedule and attach it to the front of your refrigerator, or any place that you consistently visit.
- Recovery is crucial – Giving yourself time to recover after working out can make just as much difference as the workout itself. The body needs to heal and adjust to the strain you adding placing upon it. Getting a good night’s sleep and providing at least a day or two between intense training sessions is very important. This is especially true for lifting weights. Try to refrain from exercising the same muscle groups back to back.
Gather Your Equipment
You’ll most likely want to begin with athletic shoes. Make certain to pick shoes intended for the activities you will be engaging in. For instance, running shoes are lighter in weight than traditional shoes, which are more steady.
Investing in exercise equipment is up to you. If you plan to do so, choose pieces that you will use and can afford. If it is an option, a free trial at a local gym can be a great way to figure out which equipment would work best for you. Try out a few different ones before you start investing your hard-earned cash.
Fitness apps and workout DVD sets are also an option.
There are quite a few free apps in both the Android and IOS app store that can help with tracking your workouts, food dairies, and much more.
Already designed workout routines like P90x or Insanity are also great options for those who just have no idea where to start. They do cost a bit, but they are an option for hitting the ground running.
Now that you have the basic knowledge and requirements out of the way, it’s time to get started. Remember to start small and if at any point you feel that you are overdoing it, back it down to a less intense variation. A little pain is usually a good sign, but if something doesn’t feel right, consult your physician right away. Listen to your body.
Be creative! Switch up your workouts to keep things interesting. Doing the same ol’ routine week after week gets stale. Changing things up with help to prevent your body from adjusting, and will provide you with better and faster results.
Monitor your progress. Re-take your measurements every 4-6 weeks, and adjust your fitness schedule as needed. For some people, it may take a few months to find your rhythm. Don’t be afraid to try new things and find what works best for you.
If at any point you start to lose motivation, adjust your goals and try new fitness activities. If possible, invite a friend or family member to join you in your journey. Having others around to hold you accountable and give added motivation can really help.
Making the decision to start working out is an important one, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Plan ahead and pace yourself.