Whether you are trying to improve your appearance or your health, there are countless benefits to exercising regularly. Making this lifestyle change can be difficult, especially for people who lead a sedentary lifestyle, but it can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health. Apart from weight loss and disease prevention, exercising can increase your self-esteem and allow you to feel more energized throughout the day. Combined with healthy eating habits, implementing an exercise routine can help you to feel and function better. Here is a list of 8 tips that can help you set up an exercise routine and get started.
1) Set Goals
Figure out what you are trying to achieve with your exercise routine and set goals accordingly. If you are trying to lose weight, then set up a workout plan that burns a lot of calories. You can check out our article How to lose weight: The basics for more weight loss tips and suggestions. If you are trying to build muscle, however, then you may want to focus more on strength training. In any case, it is important to establish an exercise routine that is structured to meet your individual needs.
2) Be consistent
Construct a plan for each workout and try to schedule them throughout the week. Adding this structure to your exercise routine will make it a habitual process that is easier to follow. Without a written plan, it is a lot easier to procrastinate your work out until the next day. The more you reinforce exercise as a habit, however, the easier it will become to stick with it.
3) Track your progress
Measure your progress wherever you can and try to improve your personal best. If you are participating in yoga classes, measure how far you can stretch and try to improve your flexibility. If you are running, time yourself and try to improve your speed. No matter what the exercise, tracking your progress and setting new goals is a great way to stay motivated and expand your workouts. There are several trackers you can use that monitor steps, heart rate, time, etc. The Fitbit Flex 2, for example, is great for tracking steps, distance, calories burned, and even sleep.
4) Build your routine
A common mistake people make when starting to exercise is working out for hours every single day. Unless you have been working out for a long time, your body will not be able to handle that level of strain and exertion which can deter you from sticking with your routine. Provide enough time for your body to recover from the previous workout, especially if you are not used to a high level of physical activity. Create a manageable routine and then gradually add to it over time. The American Heart Association (2016) suggests that adults receive 150 minutes of moderate exercise and 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
5) Try aerobic and anaerobic exercises
Mix up your routine so that you can experience the benefits of both aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises, such as hiking, jogging, biking, or swimming, use large muscle groups, continuous exertion, and are usually less intensive (Patel et al., 2017). These types of exercises can have a lot of cardiovascular benefits and are excellent for weight loss and endurance training. Anaerobic exercises, such as sprinting or heavy lifting, use fast-twitch muscles and consist of shorter, intensive exertions (Patel et al., 2017). These types of exercises can be very useful for strength training and muscle building.
6) Stay hydrated
Make sure to drink a lot of water while you are exercising so that you can replace the water being lost through sweat. Although it is particularly important to keep in mind when exercising outside, you should always try to stay hydrated during exercise. Water plays many roles in the body and failure to replace the excessive loss of water can lead to dehydration. This can inhibit your exercise performance and potentially lead to injury as well.
7) Find enjoyable activities
Exercise doesn’t have to occur in a gym or a weight room. While utilizing an exercise facility can provide you with a lot of tools for exercising, it is important to find physical activities that interest you. If treadmills and barbells work for you, then a gym might be the best option; however, others may choose to work out at home or outdoors.
8) Be patient
Many people want to have immediate results and end up overexerting themselves or quitting their exercise routine altogether. Building up your strength and endurance takes time, so try to set realistic expectations. Although you may experience some benefits immediately, it will take a while to see the physical results of your efforts. Don’t let this discourage you from exercising. If you stick to your routine and gradually improve it, then you will eventually reach your goals.
Are you trying to start exercising? Have you recently started? Let us know about your experiences and what methods have helped you to start exercising.