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Begining an Exercise Program, Page 2

Another big mistake people make when beginning a fitness program is starting out at full speed. If you have not exercised in a while, or if you have never exercised, your body will not appreciate being shoved into full-blown activity. How do you expect to run five miles if you've never walked around the block? You'll either injure yourself or quit in frustration. Start off slow and let your body adjust to its new level of activity. Even if you can't go for more than ten minutes at a time, that's fine. Just keep doing those ten minutes regularly and eventually you'll find you can do 15, then 20 minutes. A few weeks will pass and then you'll discover you can exercise for 45 minutes or an hour and you'll feel energized afterwards. This would never have happened if you had started out trying to force yourself to do an hour of exercise right from the start. You would have woken up the next day, sore and exhausted and definitely not looking forward to the next workout. Remember - any exercise, no matter how small, is good and when you're starting off, less is often more.

(Article continued below.)

Variety is also important. At first it may be all you can do to stay focused on one activity, but both your body and mind will become bored if you keep doing the same routine over and over. If you are starting a walking program, change the route every so often, or switch between the treadmill and mall walking. When you feel yourself getting stronger, consider taking a hike. Since walking uses the same muscles repeatedly, it's also a good idea to alternate it with another activity - cycling or spinning, or aerobic dance, perhaps. Also pay attention to your upper body - do resistance training or Power Yoga. Pilates can work wonders for your abdominal and back muscles. Nearly all these activities are appropriate for an exercise newbie, and once you feel comfortable with your workout, you can add some of them into your routine. If you exercise several times a week and vary what you're doing, by week's end you'll have covered most of your major muscle groups, leading to overall fitness, muscular development and, yes, weight loss. And you'll always have something new and interesting to look forward to.

A couple last suggestions - if you're one of those people who enjoys company when you work out, it'll be helpful if you enlist a friend in your exercise program. You can help keep each other motivated. When it comes to fitness, often two people can have more fun than just one alone. And if you're overwhelmed at the thought of starting a fitness program, do consider hiring a personal trainer to design a program for you. You don't have to see your trainer at every session - just have him or her help you create a routine that you'll enjoy, practice it regularly and meet up once a month to check your progress. That way having a trainer won't break your budget.

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