How To Start Working Out

by Chris 'The Kiwi' Ashenden - 2 years ago

Do you want to get more exercise, but are unsure of how to start working out?

You’re not alone. For those of us who have never worked out before or want to begin again, it can be difficult to find the confidence and motivation. However, there are specific approaches that can help keep the process healthy and fun.

Most of us set unrealistic goals when we approach working out. If our ideals and our bodies are not compatible, this may lead to frustration and loss of motivation.

How many people do you know who went from couch potato to training for a marathon only to burn out and quit?

There’s a better way to work toward those intimidating goals with a few simple steps. With just a few minutes of exercise a day or a few classes a week, we can all break the cycle of crash and burn.

And I’m not making this up. It’s a suggestion that’s consistent among top health and fitness experts. So let’s take a closer look at what they have to say!

1. Find A Workout Routine That Is Comfortable And Convenient For You
2. Working Out Can Be Fun, Social, And Therapeutic!
3. Working Out For Seniors Or Those With A Disability
4. How Not To Quit When You Start Working Out
5. How To Start Working Out Safely
6. How To Start Working Out, Right Away

Find A Workout Routine That Is Comfortable And Convenient For You

Is your life so hectic that you can’t imagine how to start working out?

Do you prefer wearing those cute, little gym shorts in the privacy of your own home?

Well, you’re in luck, because there are numerous exercises you can do at home, at work, or even during your commute to and from!

It is, perhaps, not uncommon to imagine that those who run on a treadmill every day are fit, and those who can only manage to get a bit of a walk in are not. This is untrue! Our bodies are designed to walk and this is a perfectly adequate form of daily exercise.

The health professionals that contribute to Harvard Public Health tell us that a daily walk of about 30 minutes—ideally performed with some gusto—can keep us in good health.

Exercise is a great way to break up the work day. Our brains can get pretty fuzzy after x amount of hours staring at a computer screen. It’s amazing what a little movement can do to help.

It’s important to remember that we’re all built differently, and as we start working on our physical fitness, we learn to recognize our body’s signals for more or less activity.

It’s also a great idea to consider what your goals are – are you recovering from an injury, trying to get back into running, looking to lose weight or gain strength? With a goal in mind, you can carefully map out the steps that will help you achieve it.

And there’s no rush. Get movement into your life in a way that’s sustainable for you. Find a routine you enjoy and be aware of your own limitations. Check out the options below – there really is something for everybody.

Working Out Can Be Fun, Social, And Therapeutic!

If you thought working out had to be boring or that your busy schedule meant you had to choose between a social life and physical fitness, the good news is it’s not true!

Working out can be both strengthening and healing. No matter what your goals are, the ideal workout does exist!

Live A Little

Fact: laughter is a form of exercise in itself and a pain killer, too.

Most gyms offer classes (some free), including Kickboxing, Zumba, Yoga, Cycling, and more. And remember, you don’t have to go this alone. Consider this: If you’re chatting with a buddy, you’re a lot less likely to realize how exhausted you are.

If you love music and dancing, you’ve been gifted a great fitness opportunity.

There are many sources, from your gym to a local studio (or even an online tutorial), where you can learn dances such as, salsa, Arabic Belly Dance, Burkina Faso dance, flamenco, hip-hop, the Hasapiko, ballroom, and much more.

Dance offers something different: It is about cultural and individual expression. It can be fun, challenging, and, yes, social!

Dance is also a great way to strengthen your core, which another medical report reminds us is an absolute necessity.

The Sweet Spot

We place a great deal of pressure on our backs and hips throughout the day. Increased core strength means increased mobility of all other limbs.

If you’re not a dancer, there are many options for core strengthening workouts.

You can do planks, stretches, and squats (with balls, weights, or empty-handed). These can be done in your own home in as little as fifteen minutes and with great benefit.

There is also Pilates. If you have time to get to the gym, Mat Pilates is free with most memberships and Reformer Pilates (machine-based) takes place in a studio with a separate membership price.

And let’s not forget about yoga, which is an excellent way of strengthening your core. It’s also a very relaxing form of exercise that can be done at home or even at your desk chair!

With the help of Youtube sessions (some of which run within 15 to 30 minutes), hosted by seasoned and respected teachers, like Rodney Yee, or one of the many books provided, catering to all ages and physical requirements, you can stretch, strengthen, tone, and relax.

Whether you’re an advocate for the spiritual aspects of yogic practice or not, it has been shown to offer great health benefits. Holger Cramer, PhD, Catherine Bushnell, PhD, and others offer evidence to support yoga as being an effective way of combating chronic back pain.

For those of us whose jobs entail desk work, and parents whose kids often need carrying around, we know how quickly back pain can become a problem. And who knows? Yoga may be the ticket.

Just Keep Swimming

Swimming provides an holistic means of working out and it engages more of the major muscle groups than almost any other exercise.

A fascinating aspect of swimming we don’t tend to think about… It frees us from a certain amount of gravitational pull, relieving our joints.

As a non-weight bearing workout, swimming reduces joint inflammation and stiffness.

Swimming can help with any number of physical strains we experience each day. Physical strains we may have little or no idea of by nature of habit and our perception of what is ordinary.

For example, let’s glance at the research of Apkar V. Apkarian, PhD, who has spent years researching the nature of pain and our perceptions of it. He claims that even the pressure of sitting on a chair is enough to cause pain, though our brains, by necessity, do not equate it as such.

Your local gym most likely has a pool or, even better, there may be a lake or ocean near you.

How To Start Working Out—Right There At Your Desk

We shan’t get Mouse Shoulder as we get older! That is, you can avoid all those nasty little diseases of the contemporary world, like Carpal Tunnel or Cervical Pain Syndrome, by breaking up your work day with a few minutes of movement, here and there.

If you spend extended periods of time working at your computer, don’t let those sneaky occupational hazards catch up with you.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a mini workout you can do right at your desk. You can download it for free below.

Not only will frequent breaks and movement help prevent unwanted physical conditions from developing, but it will also increase your focus and productivity.

The Mind-Body Link

Mind-body links are something remarkable. If you’re feeling a bit hazy and negative, don’t think you have to just suck it up and push through. The truth is, your body is telling you what it needs: A change of pace.

But that change of pace should be one that is a healthy and distinctly focused activity which draws you away from your current task without depleting brain activity like Twitter or Facebook can.

Many of us will have multiple screens open, bouncing between them, thinking that multitasking is a positive outcome of evolution. And, hey, it’s sort of relaxing, too… or is it?

After a while of internet surfing, have you ever noticed your mind and emotions get a little muddled? That’s because your brain has been so overwhelmed with tasks and information, you’re ability to focus has been effectively kiboshed.

Take a deep breath and give yourself a five minute break with some exercises to distract you and to get your circulation moving.

You’ll feel better and work more efficiently!

Working Out For Seniors Or Those With A Disability

It is never too late for you to start working out. No matter your age, you never lose the ability to build your strength.

Did you know aerobic exercises can lessen the risk of developing Type II diabetes and resistance training gives you energy and balances your insulin levels?

I know we mentioned swimming earlier, but, for those with trouble walking, this may just be the ideal exercise for you too.

The buoyancy provides great relief while building your strength as you move. And, in addition to the benefits of swimming covered above, it has been shown to decrease blood pressure.

However, depending on your current physical condition and your access to relevant assistance, yoga may be more helpful to you.

There have been numerous attempts at designing yoga programs to benefit various physical restraints and annoyances. For example, one study addressed the effects of yoga on the common ailment, Lumbar Spondylitis, and the results were quite positive.

If this strikes your curiosity, why not conduct your own research into how yoga can help with various conditions.

When you find what you’re looking for, you can take your new-found knowledge over to Youtube and search for tutorials that could help improve your physical and mental health from the safety and comfort of your own home.

How Not To Quit When You Start Working Out

Studies show that if you want to start working out, you’re much more likely to follow through if you experience regular reinforcement from a partner.

In other words, if you know someone with similar fitness goals, it could be beneficial to team-up. You can share goals, celebrate successes together, and pick each other up when things go south.

Another method is to make yourself accountable to a friend or family member. Not only that, but you can heighten the stakes: For example, you can lend them a certain amount of money with a conditioned return policy.

Meaning, if you accomplish the goals you’ve set for that month, they’ll give it back. If you do not accomplish those goals, they are free to use the money as they please.

It may sound a little harsh, but many research scientists have contributed to studies that prove the method is very successful.

How To Start Working Out Safely

Just Breathe

When we’re stressed or hyper-focused, we can forget the simplest things, even breathing.

It’s because this happens that strategies are created to help us be aware of our movements and realize what our bodies need. One of the most important strategies is learning how to breathe.

You may say, “Learn how to breathe? Don’t be silly, what could be more natural?”

But it is not just a matter of remembering to breathe under pressure; it is a matter of adopting those breathing techniques specific to each activity.

Whether you’re doing crunches, lifting weights, running, or standing at rest, it’s important to make sure you’ve researched the relative breathing techniques to maintain optimal health.

Slow And Steady Wins The Race

Another safety measure that’s important to both short-term and long-term exercise strategies: Start off slow!

Take the time to warm up and stretch before each workout. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts, over time. Overextending yourself is common, particularly among those who have just started working out, and can lead to bone, muscle and joint injuries.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate… In Moderation

Then, of course, there is the matter of hydration. We all know that water is our lifeline and that the more energy we expend, the more water we need. However, exactly how much water we need to drink is debated back and forth.

Popular opinion tends toward the eight 8-ounce glasses per day quick fix, but it turns out that few countries have established concrete hydration requirements. The fact is, our individual needs vary and it’s difficult to provide an equation for that.

Remarkably, we get much more water from food than you might think. Many get as much as 22% of their body water from food and the percentage is often higher for those whose diets include a lot of fruits and vegetables.

We are all built differently; we all have to adapt to different environments; and all of us expend energy at different rates. Each one of our bodies is constantly (constantly!) seeking balance within itself, relative to all those variables.

Water is an essential ingredient to maintaining that balance. A very real, physiological balance made up of chemicals, minerals, and electrical signals.

Water makes up 75% of the body weight in infants and 55% in the elderly.

But here is something tricky: human beings are the only species that have tended to confuse what should be an automated sense of the need for hydration. This is because we are the only species that drinks for pleasure, as well as by necessity.

That being said, since none of us will be giving up coffee or beer in a hurry, let the message be this: Don’t feel as though you have to force eight 8-ounce glasses of water down your throat each day, but pay close attention to your fatigue levels and temperature fluctuations, especially when you are working out.

If you’re going to be sweating a great deal, drink water that is high in sodium salts. You’ll need it.

Quick Tips For Working Out Safely

  • Work with a physical healthcare provider, especially, if…
    • You’re already contending with other health complications
    • You’ve been previously injured
    • You’re seeking rehabilitation exercises
  • Don’t overwork one area; mix up your movements
  • If you use the gym, have an employee introduce you to the purpose and correct operation of each piece of equipment
  • Sharp pains means your body is telling you to “Stop!”
  • Dull aches can be a sign of muscle fatigue and/or development, but consult your healthcare provider or trainer if concerned
  • Find extra tips on getting active safely

You might also benefit from the collaboration between Oxford University Press and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). They’ve joined together to offer free internet access to articles that could help you understand your needs and options.

One risk-free piece of advice is this: It is never worthwhile to neglect taking care of yourself.

How To Start Working Out, Right Away

Pick any old time of the day your energy levels are up and move about.

Ask yourself whether you’re a morning person or you feel the need for speed at 2pm. Some people find it helpful to lay a mat by their bed for the following morning.

Others bring a stability ball with them to work for ultimate efficiency. Maybe a 10 minute yoga session before bed is right for you.

If motivation tends to hit you randomly, why not carry your tennis shoes with you and do a little jog-in-place when it suits?

Develop a good playlist. Find out if Prince or Vivaldi will be what gets you pumped (if you don’t already know).

If you need a plan, but get bored easily, schedule your workouts at different times throughout the week. And, hey, who says you need to be a Pilates person versus a flamenco aficionado? You can do both. As someone very wise once said, “Specialization is for insects”.

The first priority is to get yourself doing something, each day.

Our free download below lends a hand to working in some healthy, mind-clearing activity throughout your day.

As a side note, it is amazing how many tutorials you can stream from your phone, wherever you are, whenever you’re there. Then again, if you’re old school there are also many options for TV and books.

Tell Us How You Started Working Out

Here at Athletic Greens, we are always trying to expand our knowledge of fitness and health. We would love to hear your stories: How did you start working out? What helped you or hindered you? And most importantly, what can we do better?