9 Ways to Start a Fitness Routine

May 12, 2011

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fitnessAre you ready to start a fitness routine? Try the following tips to make getting off on the right foot easier.

Check In: If it’s been awhile since you’ve been active, be sure to check in with your doctor. He or she can help you make a plan for an activity that’s a good match for your current physical abilities and explain when and how to recognize when it’s time to increase the intensity. Even five minutes a day is a good start. It’s more important to do it than to overdo it.

Make a Plan: Spend some time thinking about when you’ll exercise, what you’ll need, and even what some of the possible obstacles will be. The more you visualize yourself being active in your mind, the better prepared you’ll be.

Choose Something You Like: Even if you have never been a “natural” exerciser, there are sure to be some activities you’ll enjoy more than others. Think back to what you did for “play” as a child. Ride bikes? Swim? Climb rocks? Play tennis? If you choose something you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to look forward to it than dread it.

Know Yourself: Are you a creature of habit who finds it comforting to do the same thing day after day, or do you need variety to keep yourself interested? Are you more likely to be active in the morning, at lunch, or at night? Work with your natural tendencies to keep yourself on task.

Put It In Your Calendar: You won’t exercise if you don’t make time for it. It may seem artificial but many of my patients say making an appointment or penciling out time in their calendar for fitness helps them make sure it gets done. And once you’ve made the appointment, stick with it just like you would a doctor’s visit or other commitment.
Just Get Started: Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. So even if you don’t “feel like” exercising on a certain day, just tell yourself you’re going to get dressed and do it for five minutes instead of procrastinating or thinking about it. Chances are once you get going, you’ll keep going. And if not, you will know you gave it a try.
Don’t Blow the Budget: One mistake I see patients make over and over again is to sign up for an expensive gym membership, buy a treadmill, or spend a lot of money when they first start a fitness routine so they feel like they are “doing something.” But often that something never gets used or ends up being a poor choice. My advice is to buy a good pair of shoes and maybe some workout clothes to start and leave it at that. Once you’re walking or doing something else for a month or more, then make the bigger financial commitment if you still want to.
Put the Past Behind You: Maybe you’ve tried to get active and failed before. Maybe you had a bad experience as a child with sports. Maybe someone has told you that you’re not coordinated or athletic. If this is the case, recognize those past experiences but don’t let them stop you from giving fitness another try.

Get In the Habit: It takes anywhere from 21 days to 3 months to start a new habit, so make a commitment to stick with your new routine at least that long before you quit, even if it feels awkward or forced at first. In time, the positive benefits of moving more – better sleep, more energy, a lower stress level, easier weight loss – will likely keep you motivated. In time you may even find that your workout has become such a key part of your routine that you aren’t even tempted to skip it!

So go ahead – get going! Your new fitness routine is an essential part of moving toward the healthier life you deserve.

Dr. Michael Kaplan
Founder and Chief Medical Officer
The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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