Getting Fit: Exercise Tips for Beginners

why staying fit is important

You are certainly familiar with the importance of exercise.  It seems every time you turn around there is someone spouting the benefits of improved health, right? But rarely do you hear how to go about starting an exercise regimen.  For beginners, the exercise process can be intimidating and raise many questions.  What type of exercise should you do?  How long should you do it?  How often should you exercise?  What are the most beneficial exercises?  How do you avoid injury?


Well, you asked and we answered!  Here are some basic tips for beginners.

Getting started

A very broad definition of exercise could be: pushing the body harder than normal with the goal of increasing your heart rate, building muscle, and burning calories.  Using that definition, there are tons of activities that can be considered exercise.  When choosing an activity, there are two very important things to consider: comfort and enjoyment.  You won’t stick to an exercise program if you are uncomfortable with the activity or don’t enjoy it.

For beginners, try to exercise two or three times per week.  As your body becomes accustomed to the exercise, you should increase the number of times per week, the intensity, and the duration of the activity.  This will allow for continued improvement.

Don’t be afraid to try different types of activities.  In fact, you should regularly switch up your routine to keep your muscles guessing!  Add in new exercises, yet hang on to some of your favorites.  This will help keep your enthusiasm and motivation high.

For best results, your exercise program should include all three of these categories: aerobics, strength training, and flexibility.

Aerobics

Aerobics are activities that work the large muscle groups.  Good exercises for beginners are walking, jogging, dancing, and cycling.  Other activities – like rowing and swimming – involve movement of both the upper and lower body.  These exercises really get the heart rate up.

Strength training

Strength training involves any exercise that uses resistance to build or maintain muscle.  Most people associate the use of weight machines or free weights for strength training.  However, activities like sit-ups and abdominal crunches build muscle too.

Flexibility

For many (especially beginners), flexibility exercises are the most dreaded activity.  They can be painful at first and seem like a waste of time.  However, increasing flexibility is the best way to reduce the risk of strains, twists, and other injuries.  Additionally, flexibility exercises…

  • Increase the blood supply to joints and muscles.
  • Increase physical performance.
  • Reduce soreness.
  • Reduce muscle stress.

Being successful

In the beginning, it is common to make mistakes.  These mistakes can range from ineffective execution to causing injury.  Luckily, we have some tips on how to avoid the most serious mistakes – injuries.

Not stretching enough

Make sure you always stretch for at least a few minutes before exercising.  If you don’t want to stretch all your muscles (or don’t have time), stick to the muscles you will be using.  If your muscles are warm and flexible before you begin your exercise, they are less likely to be injured.

No warm-up

While stretching is important, it is only half the battle.  Make sure you spend some time warming up before your aerobic exercise too.  It is important to gradually build up your heart rate.  You can start your exercise slowly and gradually increase the intensity.  Walking and jogging are good warm-up activities.

No cool-down

Just like your warm-up, your cool-down should be a gradual progression.  Finish off your exercise with some light jogging.  Also, make sure you spend some time stretching while your muscles are warm and supple.  This will help reduce stiffness.

Overexertion

Remember…you are a newbie.  Don’t try to do too much too soon.  Training every day may seem like a good way to make a lot of progress fast, but it is actually very ineffective.  It is also very dangerous.  Your body needs time to recover.  Plus, there is no point trying to compete with other people who have been exercising for much longer than you.  It’s just not a fair comparison.  Know your own limits.

Not drinking enough

You must replace the fluids that were lost while exercising.  While still in the beginner phase, you should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.  If you progress to longer workouts (two hours or more), you need to add energy drinks to your daily beverages intake too.

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