If you are ready to get in shape and get healthier with regular exercise, get started now. Learn how to exercise with workout routines for beginners.
What if there was a prescription to safely boost your energy, help you lose excess weight, improve your mood and mental function, lower your risk for several cancers, stroke and heart disease — and even make you less prone to falls and cognitive decline as you grow older?
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is. It’s not a miracle drug. It’s regular exercise.
However, even if you need and want to exercise, you may be faced with the most common barrier — just getting started. It can be especially difficult if you’ve never exercised regularly or haven’t pursued any sport or workout routine for years.
How to start working out can seem overwhelming and baffling when you are out of shape. But here’s good news: How to exercise safely and effectively is something you can learn by following tried and true strategies.
How to start working out: Plan for exercise success
How to start working out effectively needs a plan that includes the following:
- Get your doctor’s OK. This is especially important if you have chronic diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, or any heart conditions, the CDC advises. Talk to your doctor about what types and amounts of physical activity are appropriate for you.
- No excuses: You can fit exercise into your day. Make exercise a commitment, even it if means starting your day a half hour earlier for a walk.
- Find an exercise you enjoy so you’ll stick with it. Try new activities. Look into a workout for beginners class at your local community center, YMCA, or gym. Walk with a friend or walk your dog. Commit to sticking to a workout routine you enjoy for at least six months and, odds are, you will make exercise a regular habit, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
- Don’t let finances stand in the way. You don’t have to spend money to be active. For aerobics, all you need are comfortable no-skid shoes to walk briskly 20 to 30 minutes a day. For strength training workouts, the NIA notes you make your own weights with water bottles and soup cans. And local parks and recreation centers often have free or low-cost exercise programs.
Workout routines for beginners are flexible
How to exercise successfully involves being consistent. Start slowly and gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts. Eventually, all adults should set a long-range goal of 30 minutes or more of moderately intense exercise on most days of the week, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
Walking is a great way to start. It’s a safe and accessible way to add regular exercise to your life, the NHLB point out. Aim to walk briskly 30 minutes a day, at least three days a week. But if you can’t find 30 minutes a day to walk, simply work in three 10-minute periods. You can even begin with one 10 minute walk a day and then add more sessions in a week or two.
Your exercise routine can include a gym workout for beginners (an exercise class, swimming, or working with a physical trainer) and other forms of exercise you enjoy. In addition, the NHLBI recommends paying attention to how you can adapt regular daily activities to make them more physically active. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
Over time, as your stamina and muscle strength increase, you may pursue more strenuous activities. Competitive sports, such as tennis and basketball, can be fun ways to exercise regularly. You can often find people to play with in your community or at local recreation centers.
What a home or gym workout for beginners should include
According to the NIA, these four types of exercise are important to eventually work into your regular workout routine: endurance, balance, strength, and flexibility. Walking and jogging, swimming, and playing a variety of sports are examples of endurance exercises. Yoga and tai chi are types of workouts for balance and flexibility. Lifting weights, or using your own body weight (with push-ups, for example) or exercise machines, builds strength.
You don’t need to pursue all these forms of exercise every day, but the variety will not only keep exercise interesting but also can also help boost health.
In fact, many types of workouts you do at the gym or on your own can have multiple benefits, the American Heart Association (AHA) points out. For instance, yoga improves strength as well as balance and flexibility and exercises that increase lower-body strength improve balance.
More tips on how to exercise
The Department of Health and Human Services Move Your Way campaign provides a free online, interactive Move Your Way activity planner to help you build a weekly workout plan with specific examples of aerobic and strength building workouts you can print out.
The AHA offers home workout suggestions, too, including this balance exercise to add to your workout routine.
Try standing on one foot for 10 seconds, then switch to the other foot. If you find standing on one foot for that long is too difficult at first, follow these instructions and you’ll eventually improve your balance:
- Support yourself by holding on to a wall or sturdy chair with both hands. Then stand on one foot.
- Keep standing and hold on with just one hand.
- Next, support yourself with only one finger.
- When you are steady on your foot, try balancing with no support at all.
- Repeat on the other side.
Workout routines for beginners should include flexibility exercises to stretch muscles and help your body stay flexible. Although stretching exercises don’t strengthen muscles, they do improve freedom of movement and warm up muscles to make other exercises easier to do.
The AHA suggests this easy flexibility exercise to incorporate into your workout — a forward bend:
- Gently and easily stretch your chest toward your toes while standing or seated. Don’t force yourself or strain.
- Relax and breathe normally. Take a breath in and then count to 10 slowly as you breathe out and stretch forward.
- Never jerk or bounce as you stretch — you could injure muscles. Over time, regularly stretching will allow you to reach and bend farther as you become more flexible
May 03, 2019
Janet O’Dell, RN