Exercising to get fitter can be a challenge. The desire can be there to work out and improve your health, but it can be hard to motivate yourself or know where to start.
There are a wide range of exercises and sports to choose from and varied advice on how to start getting fit. In this post we break that down for you and look at how to start exercising, along with the best workouts to build up your fitness and get into shape.
What do you enjoy to do?
If you haven’t exercised in a while, or you are starting out on your fitness journey, it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor before undertaking any exercise. You want to make sure that working out and playing sports is going to improve your health and not harm you in any way.
Creating an exercise schedule can be a good way of staying focused and motivated. Knowing that on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evening you’ll be going for a walk or a swim can help you mentally prepare and commit to your workout plan.
There are a few things you can be doing daily to help you get off the couch and moving around. These include…
- Using the car less and walking more
- Using the stairs rather than the lift
- Listen to health and fitness-inspired podcasts or audiobooks to help you stay motivated. Even better, listen while you exercise and the time will fly
- Trying a variety of exercises to keep you interested and engaged
- Asking a friend or family member to encourage you
- Wearing a fitness tracker can be a great motivation as you monitor how many steps you’ve taken or how many minutes you’ve spent exercising that day
By taking these small steps it will help you to switch to a healthier mentality and prepare and motivate you to want to do more.
How Much Exercise Should I Be Doing?
According to the NHS, adults aged 19-64 should exercise daily, and doing some form of exercise is better than doing nothing. So, if you plan on working out for half an hour, but you only manage 10 minutes, don’t beat yourself up.
The NHS recommends that you exercise to a moderate intensity, which includes brisk walking, bike riding, aqua aerobics, or dancing, for 150 minutes every week. Alternatively, you can do 75 minutes of vigorous intensity, such as a jog, run, fast swimming, sports, gymnastics, or martial arts.
Sounds a lot doesn’t it? At the beginning of your fitness journey it may be too much, but you have a goal to aim for.
Choosing the Best Exercise for You
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise. It’s an activity that most of us can do and how long we walk for is entirely up to us. The UK National Obesity Forum says that a person who walks between 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day qualifies as "moderately active".
Taking the dog for a walk with the family in the countryside, or packing a healthy picnic and heading for the woods, are great ways to get your exercise in whilst being sociable and enjoying your surroundings.
For parents with little ones there are walking buggie groups who meet at local parks and push their prams whilst chatting and walking. There is also the opportunity to join local walking groups and make friends too.
On the other hand, walking alone can be a great way to get some headspace and unwind after a long day. A great way to reduce your stress.
Swimming can be a great way to ease into exercise and relieve pressure from the joints. Don’t feel as though you have to keep up with the Olympic swimmer in the next lane, you’re there to work on you. Take it slow and build up the pace over time.
Yoga & Pilates
Whether you’re a beginner or not, yoga and pilates are a great way to become flexible, which will help you whilst doing other forms of exercise.
There are yoga and pilates classes for beginners online and at gyms. Don’t worry, they won’t be asking you to stand on your head and clap your hands in the air. Yoga is about exploring what your body can do and connecting with it. Enjoy each pose as you stretch your muscles and focus on your breathing.
Try this free NHS yoga class for beginners.
Walking into a dance studio may seem daunting, but you won’t have to worry about what exercises to do as you simply watch and follow the teacher. It’s a great way to have a laugh, and your best friend would jump at the chance of joining you at a dance class.
Starting, or getting back into a sport is a great way to whip into shape and there are social benefits too. Sometimes chasing a ball is much more of an enjoyable activity for you, especially if jogging is not your thing. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to take up tennis, try hockey, or dreamt about being on the netball team again - whatever it is, find your local sports club and check it out.
Weights & Cardio
Of course you could hit the gym and start lifting weights and running on the treadmill. However, for a lot of newbies, this may seem too daunting. Luckily, there are plenty of home apps and videos you can watch online, so you can enjoy getting a sweat on in your own living room.
Wrapping It Up
Getting into shape can feel scary and where to start can be confusing. With our helpful guide we hope that you will feel inspired and motivated to take small steps to see big results over time.
Why not start with walking, it’s something we do every day anyway. Then look at trying some online workouts for beginners, signing up for Zumba, taking a bike ride, or diving into the swimming pool.
Remember to always seek your doctor’s permission before working out if you have any health concerns or if it’s been a while and you'd like some advice.
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Written by Rebecca Benfield