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How to Start an Exercise Program in 5 Steps

If you’re wondering how to start exercising, this is the right place to begin

2016: The year that saw your bed win the battle against your morning run. (Don’t be ashamed; we’ve been there.)

You know an exercise program is important for overall wellness and especially weight loss, but sometimes life gets in the way and it can be confusing to know where to start again. Michael Hyek, PhD, senior director, McConnell Heart Health Center, shares tips to help you not only start an exercise program — but keep at it:

Talk to Doctor

1. Talk to your doctor.

In order to avoid injury or any complications, get clearance from your doctor before beginning a new exercise program, Hyek says. “This is especially important if you haven’t worked out for an extended period of time.”


Creative Exercising Bike Riding

2. Be creative.

“You don’t need to hire a trainer or join a gym to be successful,” Hyek says. You can be active without spending a lot of money or buying expensive equipment. Choose a fitness program in an environment that suits your lifestyle and preferences. Whether it’s running on a treadmill, walking in the mall or biking in your neighborhood, you can get cardiovascular exercise in many different ways.


Exercise Schedule Workout Plan

3. Start a schedule.

When you first begin a program, aim to get moving at least three times per week, Hyek says. The general recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine is to participate in moderate intensity exercise for 150 minutes total each week.


Change Workout Routine More Intensity

4. Change up your routine.

If you’ve been working out consistently but results have slowed, it’s time to switch up either your intensity, the duration of your exercise, your workout environment, the number of days a week you exercise, or the type of exercise you do, Hyek says. It could be as simple as adding one additional workout per week, or running a few minutes longer each workout.


Push through Obstacles

5. Push through obstacles.

Everyone gets busy, or has a week of indulging too much, but a few setbacks shouldn’t keep you from picking up where you left off. Whether it’s an injury or a hectic holiday season, return to your exercise routine as soon as you can, and allow yourself to ease back into your normal pace to avoid injury.

Once you’ve started your exercise program, use our fitness tips to create variation in your exercise routine!