Starting an exercise program is much easier than you might think. The most difficult part is finding the right exercise program that safely and effectively addresses both your health and fitness needs. Here are my suggestions on how to get started.
Keep it Simple
In the beginning, most people attempt a general exercise program that is too involved. Effectively, they bite off more than they can chew. Committing too much time, getting bogged down in too many rules and trying to accomplish too much sabotages any chance for success.
Instead, I suggest beginning with a good health and fitness assessment that can help develop a program that will work for you. Also start with the simplest exercise program possible. It may be as basic as walking once a day, taking a bike ride, going for a swim or stretching. In the beginning, the key is to just get your body moving safely.
Make Sure it's Safe
Exercise safety is the most important factor to keep in mind especially if you are over the age of 50. I find that most people start much too high on the fitness ladder challenging their bodies to the point of injury and pain. The expression "No Pain, No Gain" is only appropriate for very advanced or professional athletes.
Instead, I suggest starting with foundational exercises that help stabilize your spine and improve posture while reducing pain. These are the most overlooked but helpful exercises available. Also, stay away from seated exercise machines that compress your spine and can lead to serious injury.
Break The Exercise Stereotypes
At the gym, they will instruct you to workout for an hour at a time and do that three times a week for maximum "results." We now know that this is not sound exercise advice especially for an exercise beginner. These "fitness rules" are a carry-over from the 1950's body building community.
Instead, I suggest following the current scientific studies that shown participating in shorter, more frequent exercise sessions can be more beneficial especially for the exercise beginner. As an example, you could perform three, 15 minute exercise sessions during the day and it would be just as beneficial as one 45 minute session. Many times shorter sessions also fit better into busy schedules.
Stay Off the Machines
Machines such as treadmills, Cybex circuit or Nautilus machines are good for the health club owner but not for you. Being placed in a series of exercise machines offers a quick start, low supervision option to fitness that robs you of three important benefits: Balance, Usable Core and Total Body Strength and Coordination.
Instead, when you are ready to lift weights, (this is not the first best step) I suggest sticking with dumbbells. They offer many more benefits than machines and are easy to use at home. Additionally, stand-up when you lift helping to reduce spinal compression while maximizing your balance, usable core and total body strength and body movement patterns.
I hope you find these beginner exercise tips helpful. For more good information about exercise safety and training with dumbbells Click Here to go to my e-newsletter, The Sequoia Advisor.