Realistic Tips for Starting an Exercise Regimen

By May 7, 2021 Uncategorized
Closeup of running shoes on an African American female's feet outside on a walking trail.

You probably don’t need experts like those at the Mayo Clinic, the CDC, or even Time magazine to tell you the many benefits of regular exercise:

  • Helps maintain a healthy body weight
  • Strengthens muscles and bones
  • Staves off some chronic diseases
  • Elevates mood and helps reduce stress
  • Can even be fun and serve as a way to connect with others

Likely, you can rattle some of them off in your sleep. But getting started with an exercise program — regardless of your age or fitness level — can feel like an uphill climb (literally). Long-term exercise regimens take time, determination, and discipline to establish.

At LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, we aren’t simply your healthcare providers. We are community neighbors who understand these challenges, and we want to help you get started.

Know Your Starting Point

Talk with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program to identify any potential hazards or concerns, such as instability or dizziness, high blood pressure, diabetes, muscle weakness, or other conditions that may determine what exercise is best (or potentially injurious) for you. Your health provider can also be a great resource for information or support. 

Experts at the Mayo Clinic also recommend assessing your general fitness level beforehand. Record things such as how long it takes for you to walk a mile, pulse rate before and immediately after walking that mile, and how far you can stretch forward while seated with your legs in front of you. Tracking these early may help you see progress as you go!

Choose Something You Like

If you don’t have fun doing something, very likely you’ll face challenges keeping it up. Fortunately, with exercise, there are many options. “Start with one you’re initially drawn to,” suggest Alexa Tucker and Christa Sgobba, C.P.T. in Self magazine, “whether it’s barre, boxing, Pilates, dance cardio, yoga, a strength class . . . keep trying new ones from there until you find what you enjoy.”

Ask friends and family members for recommendations, or follow a few of your favorite celebrities to learn what they’ve been successful doing. The more you’re willing to experiment, the more likely you’ll hit on something that gets you bouncing around in more than one way.

Focus on Small Achievements, and Then Build

Not even the most advanced athlete or fitness influencer began exercising at their current level of performance. In order to prevent burnout, injury, or being disheartened by not reaching unattainable goals, start small.

Current recommendations for most adults are to exercise moderately for 150 minutes per week. (That’s five 30-minute sessions weekly.) You can also break exercise into 10– or 15–minute intervals, if that helps build movement into your schedule (and your current endurance level). Finding a way to make exercise a regular habit that becomes more automatic than anguish is most important at the early stages.

Ideally, you’ll build up to doing something physically stimulating every day, but each step that moves you further from couch potato status is to be celebrated.

Practice Grace

“People who have greater levels of self-compassion tend to be more motivated, less lazy, and more successful over time,” writes Susan David — psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, cofounder and codirector of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, and CEO of Evidence Based Psychology.

Beginning anything new is challenging, so focus on what you are doing, instead of what you aren’t. Record your progress and celebrate those victories. Keeping up a positive attitude about your achievements will be good for your mind — and your body!

Learn More About LifeBrite

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Community Hospital of Early, LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes, and Lifebrite Laboratories. To learn more about our services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.