Whether you’re embarking on your first journey from the couch to the gym or you're making your triumphant return to the treadmills, you've already completed one of the most important steps: deciding to incorporate physical fitness into your daily routine. Regular exercise has a host of health benefits for your body and mind. Here are five tips to embracing fitness for beginners.
1. Set Specific Goals
When you hit the grocery store to stock up for your Super Bowl party, you probably don't wander in emptyhanded and plan your food and beverage menu on the fly. You show up armed with a well-planned shopping list so you can get in, get out, and throw a killer bash with minimal headaches.
Just as you'd make a list of the things you want to buy at the grocery store, make a written list of your goals! It won't matter how amazing your goals are if you don't remember them!
A fitness plan should start the same way — you know, minus all the hot wings and IPAs. Figuring out what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it, and how you're going to achieve it sets you up for success. Or, to put it another way, it's a lot easier to get where you want to be when you can see where you're going.
Just make sure those goals are attainable! Which brings us to our next piece of advice…
2. Start Slow
Whether you want to lose weight, add muscle, increase your flexibility, or simply move more, it's best to be realistic about your level of fitness and how quickly you can reach that goals you set. The best fitness programs for beginners are those that build slowly. If you haven't done crunches since the Presidential Physical Fitness Test back in grade school, for example, don't start by trying to do 100: Knock out 25 and see how you feel after that. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. Seems reasonable enough, right?
Just taking your furry friend on a walk is a great start to your fitness journey!
When it comes to getting into fitness, slow and steady wins the race. Setting realistic goals and mastering basic moves first can prevent injury, and it can stop you from getting discouraged or giving up entirely. Rome wasn't built in a day, and your six-pack won't be, either. But if you put in a few months of regular, realistic workouts that increase in difficulty at a steady pace, before you know it — Washboard Abs City!
3. Do What You Like
Making physical fitness a regular part of your life requires commitment. Your time is valuable and in high demand. Devising an exercise plan that's built upon activities you actually like to do is one of the best ways to ensure that you'll stick with it. In short, if you don't like running, don't run! Get that cardio in by swimming, hitting the elliptical, dancing like no one's watching, or joining a 3-on-3 basketball league.
Tons of adults and kids choose martial arts for fitness - let's be honest, it's way more fun than a treadmill.
Want something a little more adventurous? Try martial arts! You’ll find that the arts offer a positive, welcoming environment, filled with enthusiastic people of all shapes and sizes. And don’t worry about being a late joiner – people of all ages train, too! And martial arts has one other thing, too: a built-in support system! Which brings us to our next tip:
4. Find a Support System
There's a well-known African proverb that states it takes a village to raise a child. When it comes to fitness for beginners, it takes a web of help and encouragement to hit your goals. That support can take a variety of forms and provide a multitude of benefits.
Workout buddies are the best buddies.
Find a running, walking, or gym buddy, and you'll beat boredom. Share your weight loss or gain goals with your spouse, sister, or social media followers, and you'll have accountability as a motivator. You'll also have a pack of pals to cheer you on, share easy fitness tips, lift you up when you have a setback (because there will be setbacks – and that’s okay!), and celebrate your successes.
5. Harness Technology
No matter what your fitness goals are, the odds are good that there's an app — or 20 — for that. You can use your phone to track everything from your daily steps to your calories consumed, and those are just the basics. A variety of coaching apps (many tailored to fitness for beginners) can turn your phone into a portable coach, making it easy to find good workouts for beginners and squeeze in a quick workout at home or on the go. Want to get into yoga but don't have the time or money for classes at the local studio? There are 11 bazillion yoga videos on YouTube!
My personal favorite fitness apps: JEFIT PRO, MyFitnessPal, and MapMyRun. There are hundreds more!
Okay, fine, that's an exaggeration. But the fact remains that, right now, technologies such as smartphones and fitness trackers make it easier than ever to incorporate physical fitness into your busy routine and keep tabs on everything from your heart health to your macros.
Beginning your fitness journey doesn't have to be a slog. By setting realistic goals, chipping away at them consistently through activities and exercises that you like, and calling on your friends and your phone for support, you can find fitness success faster than you may think.