What Are The Steps to Begin My Fitness Program?
You may already have a fitness plan that works for you. If not, this blog will guide you through how to begin a fitness program that works for you. Because the best exercise for you is the one you will do. Before you get started with exercises and with designing your personal fitness program, consult your physician. Here are some general guidelines to get fit safely and comfortably:
- No excuses, please.
- Make fitness your priority.
- Use your brain before your muscles.
- Don’t worry, and be happy.
- Start low, and go slow.
- Keep it safe, and make it fun.
- Always warm up first.
- Make it accessible.
- Personalize your program.
- Build muscle to burn fat during idle time.
Now, let’s dive into these steps for a bit more clarification on how you can get started creating your fitness plan.
10 Steps to Begin Your Fitness Program
1. No excuses, please.
Never say you don’t have time for xyz. That excuse really means that it isn’t important for you. Even ten minutes a day will help. For those pressed for time, we recommend The 10-Minute Total Body Breakthrough by my trainer, Sean Foy.
2. Make fitness your priority.
You spend time keeping your financial plan up to date, you make sure your health insurance is current, and you take your medicines as prescribed, don’t you? Make movement your medicine too.
3. Use your brain before your muscles.
One day our son Stephen, then nineteen, challenged me to wrestle. Impulsively, I got into a match, or mismatch, with this hunk of a teen, it took six months for my torn shoulder muscle to heal. I should have thought, I haven’t used these muscles this way for years; don’t do it!
4. Don’t worry, and be happy.
Don’t think of exercise as a chore. Think of movement as the best medicine you’ll ever take and one that has only pleasant side effects. Initially, you may have a month or two of forcing yourself to move more. But eventually, your body will become habituated to emotional and physical well-being which movement provides. If you’re experiencing low days with some depression, strenuous exercise is by far the best perk-up pill.
5. Start low, and go slow.
I was on vacation and the resort we stayed at had a fantastic fitness center. Being fascinated by the hip-muscle weight machine, I just had to try it! I started with weights that were too heavy, and I went too fast. I limped for two days. A safer approach would have been to start with a lower weight, do fewer reps, and do slower movements for a shorter time. I had used (or abused) my hip muscles in ways I never had before and paid the painful price. If you’re just beginning a strength-building program, the keywords are thoughtful, slow, and gradual. Older muscles are more easily injured if you do too much too fast. If you lift improperly and rear or injure a tendon or muscle, it could take at least six weeks to heal, which is quite a setback. It’s not worth the risk of injury to overdo it.
6. Keep it safe, and make it fun.
During exercise keep your focus on your muscles. Workout accidents happen when you let your mind wander off the routine or weights. And try to get into a fitness program you enjoy and look forward to every day.
7. Always warm up first.
Gold, tight muscles are more prone to injury. Do lighter versions of the muscle exercises for a few minutes before starting your regular, vigorous workout. The increased blood flow to the warmed-up muscles makes them less prone to injury.
8. Make it accessible.
Who says playrooms are just for kids? For those of you who don’t like the sights and sounds of commercial gyms, put together your own home gym. Used and reconditioned home-gym equipment is available at a reduced cost. If you add up all the unnecessary – and often – unhealthy – stuff you spend money on, in a year you could more than pay for a home gym. Remember, illness is more expensive than wellness. My playroom, which occupies only a ten-foot-by-ten-foot area, contains:
- A Precor all-in-one strength-training system
- An elliptical exerciser
- A fit ball
- Exercise bands
- A TV
9. Personalize your program.
In addition to the activities of daily living, I try to fit in at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. When you are putting together your personal fitness program, try to incorporate all three types of exercise at least twice a week:
- Strength-building exercises for strong muscle and bone
- Endurance exercises (also called aerobics or “cardio”; e.g. walking, jogging, swimming) to improve stamina
- Stretching to improve flexibility (e.g. yoga)
10. Build muscle to burn fat during idle time.
Little moves add up. Suppose you simply move your muscles an extra ten minutes a day. Those minimoves could translate into losing five pounds of excess fat each year, especially around the middle. Did you ever think about how much time you waste standing in line? You could get in some movement medicine during this time. Say you’re standing in line at the supermarket or checking in at the airport. Stretch and move during this otherwise wasted time. Flex your feet and legs up and down to strengthen your thigh and leg muscles. Shrug your shoulders or stretch your neck muscles. (Could look kind of funny, but you’ll never see the strangers at the airport again!)