Haven’t exercised much lately?
Don’t feel bad. It’s not too late to restart your exercise routine and get in better shape.
Darin Kelley, a Marshfield Clinic Health System sports fitness instructor, offers 10 tips for staying on track whether your goal is shedding pounds or building muscle.
“It’s not where you start. It’s where you finish,” Kelley said. “The important thing is to get up and start moving.”
1. Start slow.
It takes time for your body to build strength and cardiovascular endurance whether you’re new to fitness or coming back from an exercise hiatus. Don’t jump back into heavy weight training or high-intensity cardio until you get back to a good fitness base.
2. Set achievable goals.
If your goal is running a marathon, make that your long-term goal. Start by setting a goal to run around the block or run a mile without stopping. If you want to lose 20 pounds, make a 5-pound weight loss your first goal.
3. Find activities you love.
“If you don’t like something, you’re not going to continue to do it,” Kelley said. “There are plenty of options for getting in shape.”
Fitness classes at your gym are a great way to try different types of exercise.
4. Mix up your cardio.
Don’t stick to the treadmill for every workout. Challenge yourself by using the elliptical, spin bike and rower as well.
5. Strength train.
Strength training is a great way to get a full body workout. Kelley recommends starting with 1-2 full body workouts per week, hitting all your major muscle groups. Each workout should include 12-15 different bodyweight and light resistance exercises.
Work your way up to three full body workouts per week and add heavier weights and compound movements.
6. Incorporate intervals.
“Interval training can shorten your workout time,” Kelley said. “Instead of having to exercise for an hour, you can get the same benefits in 25 or 30 minutes by doing intense bursts of exercise.”
Kelley recommends building your exercise tolerance before doing intense intervals.
7. Take rest days.
Setting a short-term goal doesn’t mean you need to do grueling workouts every day. Overworking your body, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while, can lead to injury.
8. Make fitness social.
Get your spouse, friends or new pals at the gym to be your workout buddies, or join an adult recreational sports league. Exercising with others keeps you motivated and accountable.
9. Track your workouts.
Log your workouts, weight and what you eat in a written journal or an app like MyFitnessPal. That way you’ll know if you’re making progress.
10. Use rewards.
Reward yourself for reaching your goals, whether it’s not missing a workout, hitting a weight loss milestone or improving your mile time or bench press. Buy yourself a new piece of clothing, go to the movies or enjoy a special treat.