When it comes to working out, there is no shortage of excuses. “I’m too tired.” “I don’t have time.” “I can’t afford to join a gym.” While these reasons may be true, and some days just don’t permit a chance to visit the gym, many of these excuses could derive from the fact that you’re just not willing or not sure of how to begin a regular workout routine.
“Getting started with a fitness routine is the hardest part,” says Dianne Baker, RN, C, CDE, Manager of Outpatient Cardiac Rehab at Lankenau Medical Center, Main Line Health. “But the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll begin to notice the benefits.”
Perhaps one of the top reasons people begin an exercise routine is to lose or maintain their weight. Exercise along with a nutritious diet is healthier and safer than a weight loss pill. There are other perks to exercise, too. Regular workouts contribute to overall good health, and reduce your risks and symptoms of serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, several forms of cancer, arthritis, and depression.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be the fastest, strongest, or most competitive person in the gym to reap these benefits. Gradually easing yourself into a workout routine and working at a pace that is comfortable but slightly challenging for you is enough to make a difference. Follow Baker’s tips for beginning your workout routine below, and find yourself on a path to better health.
Physical activity guidelines for Americans recommend that we strive for 150 to 210 minutes of aerobic or cardiovascular exercise per week. These exercises, which range from structured activities like using the elliptical or treadmill at the gym to less structured ones like gardening or taking a dance class, improve the strength of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. If you’re a beginner, try walking for 15 to 30 minutes per day and gradually work up to one hour.
Pumping iron isn’t just reserved for athletes and body builders. Pick up a pair of three, five or ten pound dumbbells and begin adding a few minutes of strength training to your aerobic workouts two to three times per week. Exercise each of your muscle groups, including your legs and arms, for about 8 to 12 repetitions to help improve muscle function.
Stretching and Flexibility Exercises
Stretching after your aerobic workout is recommended to help maintain flexibility. Begin adding flexibility exercises into your workout 2 to 3 days per week. A stretch should never hurt, but you should be able to feel the stretch. If you notice a sharp pain, stop immediately. Stretching and flexibility exercises have a number of benefits that include:
- Decreased risk of injury
- Increased range of motion
- Improved circulation
- Reduced muscle tension
- Increase relaxation
- Prevention of muscle soreness
Getting off the couch, out of bed, or out of work to hit the gym or the pavement isn’t always going to be an easy choice to make, but once you begin adding these components of a successful workout to your everyday routine, you might begin to notice that it becomes just another mandatory part of the day.
Before you begin any workout routine, you should consult with your doctor.