We all need exercise. Regular fitness has incredible benefits for your health and wellness. But if you’re new to exercising, it can be hard and confusing to know how to start exercising.
Where do I get started with fitness? When is the best time to work out? What exercises are right for me?
This beginner’s workout guide will help you learn how to start exercising, how to make time for exercise and how to stick to a workout routine that fits your lifestyle.
Let’s start with the basics...
What is exercise?
Exercise is any movement that improves or sustains physical fitness and health. Exercise has many benefits including strengthening muscles, preventing injury, enhancing the cardiovascular system and increasing all-around health and well-being.
Why is exercise important?
Regular exercise is vital for all kinds of reasons. But a few of the most important are:
- Strengthening your muscles through exercise helps prevent injuries
- Improved fitness can slow aging
- Exercise can improve circulation and cardiovascular health
- Regular exercise can improve your overall happiness and well-being
- Exercise can improve your immune system
Exercise is important for everyone in different ways. Discovering and enjoying the benefits of your own exercise practice is one of the best reasons to start exercising.
Types of Exercise
There are several types of exercise. Exercise can focus on strengthening your muscles, stretching, or working your cardiovascular system.
Some of the most common exercise types are:
- Strength training usually refers to exercise that uses resistance from weights or resistance bands to load the muscles. This helps strengthen muscles through added resistance.
- Calisthenics is strength training that uses your own body weight. Examples of exercises you can do are push-ups, squats and planks.
- Cardio refers to movements ranging from low to high-intensity that require oxygen to meet the energy demands of the exercise. Cardio includes running, walking, stair climbing and jogging. For lower intensity cardio, you can also do active plank variations.
- Stretching refers to any exercise that can improve flexibility and range of motion. There are many different types of stretching: Ballistic, static stretching, isometric, active, passive, and PNF stretching. Make sure to listen to your body when you stretch. Stretching is important for your muscles and is a great way to warm up and cool down after a workout.
- Balance exercises are any movements that work smaller intrinsic muscle groups. Balance helps improve and maintain a healthy relationship between our brain, muscles, vision and inner ear which all of which we use for balance. Doing split squats, lunges, or even just standing on one leg help improve balance.
Now that you know what exercise is and some of the major types of exercise, let’s find an exercise practice that works best for you.
How to start exercising in 4 steps
1. Asses your lifestyle and schedule
Start by assessing your lifestyle and think about where you might be able to include an exercise routine.
Are you a morning person, or do you feel more motivated in the evening? Asking yourself these types of questions is key for starting your exercise routine strong and sticking to it.
Next, do a body scan and consider some areas you might like to improve with your exercise routine.
Is your back always sore? Do you feel winded going up stairs? Maybe it’s time to start walking and incorporating stairs into your daily routine. Start with whatever is manageable for you.
Once you’ve figured out a few areas you’d like to target, remember to consult your doctor so you can feel safe, confident, and motivated to start a new workout routine.
2. Set goals, start slow, and work your way up
Exercise is a marathon, not a race! Start slow to help prevent injury and keep you motivated.
For example: One squat this week is better than doing no squats last week.
5 squats next week, and then 10 the week after is a great start! There’s no pressure to dive into a routine that’s unrealistic. Start with what works for you.
No matter how you start, It’s important to track your progress as you start exercising.
If you’re not tracking your progress, it’s easy to miss milestones, lose motivation and eventually stop exercising altogether.
Use an activity tracker and let your goals change and grow as you get stronger.
3. Motivate yourself
Set milestones and celebrate them! Even the small ones!
If your goal was to do 30 minutes of exercise every day for a week, that’s awesome! Congratulate yourself and take time to give thanks.
Remember, it’s the journey, not the destination!
Motivation is different for everyone. Find a reward system that works for you, and make sure it aligns with your goals.
4. Tweak your exercise plan as you go
Reassess your exercise plans after each milestone. Ask yourself:
- Am I achieving what I set out to do?
- Are there other exercises I could add to my routine?
- Is there a way to safely push myself and reach a new level?
- Do I need to scale back my reps so I stick with my routine?
- Do I need to add more reps to increase the difficulty a bit?
- Can I add weight to some of my exercises?
Keep your goals in mind as you assess your practice. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself!
How to Make Your Own Exercise Plan
There’s tons of workout programs out there. It’s confusing trying to figure out what works for you.
Use these 4 easy steps to build your own exercise routine.
1. Find the best time to workout
Finding time to workout is the first step to building your home workout routine.
Making exercise part of your daily routine will help make it a habit.
For example: Try pairing exercise with a habit you already have like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. Associating your fitness with routines you already have will help you make fitness a healthy habit.
Pick a time in your day when you’re most likely to enjoy your workout. If you don’t like mornings and you decide to workout in the morning, chances are you probably won’t like working out...
Tip: Use a fitness app to set workout reminders and track your goals. It will help you stay motivated and on schedule.
2. Get into the workout vibe
Now it’s time to create an ideal head space and physical space for your workout.
Here’s some simple ways to find the perfect setup for your exercise routine:
- Try to find or create a space big enough for your routine. It doesn’t have to be huge, but make sure you have room to safely do your routine. Clearing your space will help change the vibe and get you motivated to workout at home.
- Pick an area you feel good in. This will help you feel more motivated and comfortable with your routine.
- Make a workout playlist to get in the mood for fitness. Music is a great way to find a flow and keep your tempo up as you workout.
- Sometimes putting on comfortable clothing to workout can also help you get into the zone. But remember, you can still get down and do some push-ups in your jeans!
3. Figure out how long your workouts will be
Setting a realistic duration for your workout will help you stay consistent with your exercise routine.
For example, you could start by adding a 10 minute workout routine to your morning, lunch, or evening routine.
You don’t have to do a huge workout 3 times a week to get results! Doing as little as 20-30 squats a day can help you get into the habit of moving more. Whatever works for you!
The PlayFitt app starts with a routine that takes about 4-5 minutes, which is more than enough to ease into a fitness routine.
4. Choose your exercises
A well balanced home workout routine should include a variety of different exercises.
Working both your lower body and upper body can help improve your posture, reduce lower back pain, and prevent common injuries.
If you’re looking for an example of a good routine to start with, the PlayFitt app starts you off with 10 push-ups and 20 squats.
It’s a quick and easy way to get started. It also tracks your reps and sends reminders to keep you on track to hit your goals.
Exercise Tips for Beginners
Congrats! You now have an exercise routine to get started with.
Here’s 6 tips to keep in mind as you get started with your first workout:
1. Stretch before and after
Make sure you stretch before and after your workout. Stretching can also be part of your workout routine.
By incorporating yoga, or even foam rolling, you’re already getting movement into your day.
Stretching is great for reducing the risk of injury and soreness.
Make sure you breathe and activate your muscles when you stretch.
Stretching is also a great way to reduce stress and bring your heart rate down after an intense workout.
2. Eat nourishing foods
Give your body the nutrients it needs to feel its best!
Make sure you get enough protein, vegetables, fruit, and lots of water to fuel your workout.
If you feel light headed when you workout, try eating a small snack before your workout.
3. Go at your own pace
Exercise is a journey! It’s not a race to be the best.
Take your time and focus on your form. Remember, slower is sometimes much more challenging too!
4. Gamify your workouts
Not a fan of working out? Try gamifying your workouts!
Use a fitness game app to challenge yourself and keep up a movement streak.
Gamifying your exercise is a great way to stay engaged and make your fitness fun.
5. Switch things up
Shaking up your workout routine from time-to-time will keep it fun and interesting.
Change your workout routine whenever you want. This could include:
- Picking a more comfortable outfit
- Finding a new playlist
- Adding some new movements
- Trying an outdoor workout
Get Excited to Exercise!
Learning how to start exercising can be tough. But with these tips and strategies you’ll be on your way to making fitness a habit!
Take it slow, move more, and most of all, enjoy yourself!
Download the PlayFitt app today to track your progress, set goals and stay motivated.