You already know that you should be exercising regularly. It benefits your overall health, makes you feel better on a day-to-day basis, busts stress, and helps you gain the strength and endurance to live a happy and active life. But what if you haven’t ever exercised, or haven’t been to the gym in years? There’s no better time to start than now! Here are a few things to keep in mind before you put on your sneakers and pack your duffel bag for starting a daily exercise routine at home.
Get a checkup if you need one
Most exercise professionals will recommend that you “talk to a doctor’ before starting a daily exercise routine at home. Sometimes that’s just for liability purposes, but it’s not a bad idea. If you’re young, healthy, and have just been lazy, don’t let this stop you from starting an exercise program slowly and carefully. If you’ve had acute or chronic health issues in the past, you’ll definitely want to chat with your general practice doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Either way, has it been a while since you’ve gotten a check up? You might as well go in and make sure everything’s in working order.
Decide what types of exercise will be best for you
In short, there are two general kinds of exercise: cardio and strength training. Cardio is any exercise that raises your heart rate – think jogging, swimming, walking, aerobics, and dance. Cardio exercises the heart. Weight training trains the muscles of your body – think weight lifting. You’ll want a mix of both, but what mix will help you reach your goals? Do some research, but don’t overthink it. There is a LOT of information out there, and the human body is complex. What works for someone else might not work for you.
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Plenty of strong, smart, and cool people are intimidated by the gym. It’s okay to feel that way, but don’t let it stand in your way. Wear something safe and comfortable, and don’t worry if you look unfit or unknowledgeable. If you’re at a gym, there’s staff there to help you use machines safely. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. (And don’t be afraid to refuse help from other “helpful” members, because you never know if they’re clueless, too, or if they just want your phone number.) You’re doing something healthy and fun, and strong is beautiful. You might make mistakes, stumble, or get frustrated. Shrug it off!
This is very important to understand when you are starting a daily exercise routine at home. Going from zero to one hundred, or from couch to marathon, is a recipe for injury and disappointment. Don’t run before you walk – literally. Start out slowly in duration and intensity, and work your way up. If you haven’t worked out in years, you shouldn’t just walk into a gym and start doing CrossFit workouts without a serious talk with a coach or personal trainer ahead of time.
You don’t start out running marathons, though a marathon might be your end goal. You start by walking for a few minutes a day, and then add a few minutes of jogging. Every week, you can increase your total time or mileage by 10%. Even if you feel great, try to be kind to your body and respect yourself by keeping a steady and slow pace and increasing slowly. You’ll thank yourself later.
Do something you like and find a routine
There’s no law that says that women have to go to spinning or Zumba class. You can run outside, or join a sport, or spend half an hour on the elliptical machine reading magazines, like so many people seem to like to do. You can join a class if you like the classes. It’s just that simple. Once you find something you like, make it routine and make a commitment to stick to it. Pretty soon, it’ll just be another part of your busy life that you wouldn’t think of changing.
Don’t spend a ton of money
Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive, but it sure can be. Once you get some new shoes, sports bras, workout clothes (yoga pants, racerback tops, running shorts, etc.), sports equipment, and gym memberships, you could be out hundreds of dollars in a hurry. Then, if your enthusiasm peters out, you still have to pay off that credit card bill. Start out with just the necessities, and add what you need as you go. Most gyms will require you to wear workout gear – no dress shoes or jeans. Your health and having fun is what’s important, not having the newest and best stuff! Though, if your bank account can handle it, and fashion is your thing, you do you! Just don’t forget to follow through with actually going to that gym you paid for.
Notes: Ladies with larger busts will want to invest in at least one good sports bra.
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Be prepared for setbacks
Exercise is hard work, and you’re not always going to see the results you want right away. If you’re looking to lose weight, it might take a few weeks or months until you see results on the scale. If you want to start running races, your times might plateau every once in a while. Some days will just feel lousy, and you won’t perform as well as you want to. You’ll get sick, injured, or distracted by some other part of your busy life, and your progress will be halted or deterred. Don’t be discouraged! It happens to everyone, and it’s all part of the process. And remember, if you get injured, take care of yourself. Don’t push too hard. It’s better for you and your body in the long run to take a week off every once in a while.