By Mike Bento, Personal Trainer
The Clubs at Charles River Park
Beginning a fitness routine is a bit like getting on the highway: you start off slowly and gradually build momentum. Any movement will help, but a big challenge when just starting out may be deciding exactly where to begin.
Like any big change, it’s best to focus on immediate attainable goals and set realistic expectations. If exercising 5 days a week seems like too much at first, maybe start by doing some form of physical activity three days a week. If that’s your goal, focus on getting in those three days – don’t worry about anything past that. Or, if you’re nervous about going to the gym (because let’s face it health clubs can be intimidating) a good goal could be simply getting to the gym and walking through the front door. Once you’re there, you can do whatever you’re comfortable with. Gaining comfort and familiarity initially will help you with your fitness later. At the end of the week, reassess and see how you did.
Regarding what kind of activities to begin with, a well-rounded exercise program includes cardiovascular (aerobic), strength training, and flexibility exercises. How long and how often you do each activity can vary from person to person – the more individual fitness recommendations are, the more effective the fitness plan. It’s always best to consult your healthcare provider beforehand, but I also recommend getting an evaluation from a personal trainer at a health club or a Physical Therapist. To return to our automotive analogy from earlier, it’s like bringing the car in for a tune-up. The trainer can assess your movement to identify any possible limitations and develop strategies for overcoming those limitations. They can also make recommendations for what activities or movements to stay away from to prevent injury while maximizing results.
Exercising occasionally is better than nothing, but in order to see the best results and get the full benefit fitness needs to become a habit. Remember that fitness highway on-ramp: start small, and as you build up endurance you can progress to doing more.
(Photo Credit: Maciek Ciupa)