How Do I Get Started?

8:16 AM Posted by Lilian

Evaluate yourself

Before increasing your activity, evaluate where you are now. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is physical activity safe for me? For some people, some forms of physical activity might be unsafe or should only be started after talking with a doctor. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise or fitness program.
  • What barriers do I need to overcome? You may have barriers in your life that make starting a fitness program difficult. These may be a lack of time, someone to exercise with, or fear of hurting yourself.
Pick an activity

Pick an activity and prepare for it. The following points will help you do this.
  • Ask yourself questions to discover your physical activity preferences and attitudes.
  • Pick an activity that you enjoy or think you might enjoy. You're more likely to keep doing something you like.
  • Be sure you have the correct clothing and gear.
  • Learn about fitness machines you may use (such as a treadmill or stair-climber). See these tips for buying equipment.
  • Learn the proper way to do your activity and be aware of any safety concerns. To find out how many calories are burned during various activities, use this Interactive Tool: How Many Calories Did You Burn?

Remember that it is best to achieve fitness in all three areas-flexibility, aerobic fitness, and muscle strength and endurance. As you meet your goals for one area, think about beginning or expanding your fitness program for another area. It is useful and easy to make flexibility part of your aerobic and muscle-strengthening routine.

Set goals

Goals help provide the motivation you need to start and continue regular physical activity.
  • Set a 1-month goal you can reach. For example, plan to walk for 10 minutes at lunch 3 days a week or to stretch for 5 minutes each morning. Avoid setting goals that compare yourself with someone else; when you are just starting out, comparisons with others can be disappointing or can cause you to try to rush your progress. Make sure your goal is specific and realistic.
  • Keep a record of what you do. Circle the days on a calendar when you get a little extra physical activity. If you want a clearer record, use a notebook to write down your moderate activity every day, including informal things like walking an extra block to work or a game of soccer in the yard with your kids. Occasionally read entries from months ago to see your progress.
  • Reward yourself. When you meet your goal, celebrate your accomplishment and give yourself a reward.

People often cite problems with motivation as the main reason they aren't more active. Following are suggestions that may help:
  • Know why you want to get fit. It is difficult to start or continue with a fitness program if you don't really know why you are getting fit. Review your reasons for doing so.
  • Have a partner. An exercise partner can keep you going just by expecting you to show up. He or she can also motivate you by watching your progress, discussing your training schedule with you, or socializing after exercise. Pick someone who is at about the same level of fitness as you. Exercising with someone who is much further along than you are can be discouraging, while someone who is at a much lower level of fitness can cause you to fall back or fail to improve. Changing or adding exercise partners can sometimes renew your motivation as well.
As you become more active, be aware of:
  1. The relationship between diet and activity, including vitamins and minerals.
  2. How to avoid common mistakes, such as doing too much too soon or investing in equipment before you know the activity is right for you.
  3. How very fast weight loss may harm your body.


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