Slow and Steady Keeps the Pace

Exercise tips for beginners

Thinking about getting back into exercise? It’s never too late to start. While a sedentary lifestyle puts you on the path of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, you can work your way away from these risks if you’re willing. No matter if it’s been weeks, months, or even years since you put those running shoes on, now is the time to get your health on the right track.

Ready to get started but a little nervous? If you’re new to the world of exercise, take heart and follow these five tips for success.

Tip 1: Pass the Test

It’s important to take the proper precautions before placing (good) stress on your heart with exercise. Men older than 45, women older than 55, and anyone who’s obese or has other health risks should make an appointment with a doctor before beginning a workout routine to determine what can be done safely in the gym.

Tip 2: Set Goals

Dreams, aspirations, hopes, and goals are wonderful motivators in life. What do you hope to achieve through exercise? Weight loss, lowered blood pressure, stress management, and diabetes prevention are just a few worthy goals. Write down your goals and post them in a prominent place.

As you consider your exercise goals, be realistic. Set attainable goals. You may need to lose 100 pounds, but start out with the goal to lose 10. The reward of watching the scale as you drop those 10 pounds will give you the motivation to lose another 10, and then another!

Tip 3: Get Ready

Start out on the right foot with the right type of gear. Those shoes sitting in your closet collecting dust have likely lost their support. Comfortable, fitted, supportive shoes are your most important exercise equipment. Without the right shoes, your feet, legs, and back may suffer and ruin your best exercise intentions. Get your feet measured and evaluated at an athletic shoe store for the best fit.

Tip 4: Make a Plan

A well-balanced exercise routine includes a mixture of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Cardio or aerobic exercise gets your heart rate and breathing elevated. Examples include jogging, swimming, cycling, or dancing.

Strength training, also called weight or resistance training, works to build and strengthen muscle. Lifting weights, using weight machines, or doing body-weight exercises like push-ups all fall into this category.

Stretching and flexibility exercises are important to increase your body’s range of motion and help your muscles cool down following a workout.

Plan to incorporate some of each type of exercise in your weekly routine, but focus on what you enjoy and what is most convenient. You’ll be more likely to stick with exercise if you like what you’re doing and if it’s accessible.

Tip 5: Ready, Set, Go!

Many newbies make the mistake of starting out too fast and going too far. Their intentions may be good, but their bodies aren’t ready for quick change. Jumping in too aggressively can lead to excessive soreness, fatigue, and injury. Be safe and start slow and small.

Over the course of several weeks, gradually work your way up to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. This way, you’ll be more likely to stick with your plan and reach your goals. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

Oh, the DOMS!

Some muscle soreness can be expected from exercises your body isn’t used to doing. Called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), this soreness will peak at about 48 hours and then gradually go away.

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