You know you need to exercise. But how do you begin a fitness routine? It can be hard to take the first step, literally, toward living a more active lifestyle. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Whether you start by taking a short walk after work or log on to a fitness class online, it doesn’t have to feel like a chore to get an exercise routine going. There are steps you can take to stick with it as well. You’re most likely to follow through if your workouts are planned and you have realistic goals that allow for some flexibility.
- Take Small Steps – Studies show it only takes 20 minutes of exercise for the brain to release the feel-good endorphins that lift your mood. Start with 20 minutes, then add about 10 minutes to the workout each week to ease yourself into your new routine. Avoid burnout. Working yourself too hard at first can lead to muscle strain and fatigue and associating exercise with pain can make you more reluctant to work out next time.
- Schedule Your Workouts – If you don’t schedule something, it’s less likely to happen. Treat your fitness routine like any other important commitment and give it the priority it deserves. Put it on your calendar and set up reminders. Keep track of when you exercise and for how long. Make notes in your calendar or keep an exercise journal. Writing down what you actually do will keep you accountable and show you how hard you’ve been working. Additionally, looking back and seeing how much you’ve accomplished can create an inspiring feeling of success.
- Try Something New – The best way to enjoy your new fitness routine is to find something you love. Let’s face it. If you hate to do a specific exercise, you aren’t going to keep it up. After all, not everyone is designed to be a runner. Don’t be afraid to try new exercises and figure out which ones work best for you. If you find yourself getting bored while you exercise, try participating in a more social activity such as a team or intramural sport.
- Find a Workout Buddy – Four words, four reasons – motivation, inspiration, determination, and conversation.Team up with a friend who will keep you motivated and on track for success. You are much less likely to cancel if you know your buddy is counting on you. Online fitness classes are a great way to stay motivated, because you can share and receive support from other class members.
- Embrace Weights – The ideal workout combines cardio and strength training. Yes, strength training! Women are often afraid to lift weights out of fear of injuring themselves. However, pumping a little iron tightens the body while boosting metabolism for faster weight loss. Start by just carrying lightweight hand weights when you go for a walk.
- Step Away from the Scale – Instead of keeping track of your exercise success by how much weight you lose, try keeping a soft tape measure handy and measuring your waist and hip size. You might build muscle and gain weight, but you’ll lose inches. Write down your measurements. As you start to trim up, seeing your progress can increase your confidence. Be sure to measure your neck, arms and ankles as well.