Starting an Exercise Plan

Millions of Americans resolve to start an exercise program every year. And starting an exercise plan also goes with making weight-related resolutions. It’s easy to come up with excuses about why we shouldn’t or can’t exercise, so what’s the best way to make a plan for success?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. In addition, muscle strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups, should be done two or more days a week. 

If you are just beginning, starting an exercise plan can be overwhelming, and it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before you start. Here are a few strategies for designing a fitness plan that will help you stay on track:

  1. Set an achievable goal Whether you are training for a marathon, looking to shed a few pounds or just trying to improve your overall health, setting an obtainable, sustainable goal helps you to track your progress and will give you the motivation to be successful. Gradually work up to your ultimate fitness goals by setting smaller goals along the way.

  2. Plan around your life – Incorporate activities in your plan that you enjoy and that work for your lifestyle. It is not necessary that you use the machines at the gym to get the recommended amount of exercise. Aerobic activities can include taking a dance class, jogging around the track, climbing the stairs at work, going on a brisk walk with the kids, jumping rope, gardening or playing tennis. Choose the activities that you enjoy the most and work out at the time of the day that you feel the most energized. If you don’t have the time to do your entire workout all at once, split it up into 10-minute sessions throughout the day. 

  3. Be consistent – Start out slow and continue at your own pace. Rotate the intensity and variety of fitness activities each day so you don’t get burned out or bored. You don’t have to stop exercising just because of soreness since pain may subside the more consistently you exercise. However, if you experience severe pain, stop exercising and consult your doctor.

  4. Build a support system – Inform your friends, family and co-workers about your fitness goals and ask them to support you. Team up with someone with similar fitness goals or hire a physical trainer to help keep you motivated and hold you accountable to your goals.

  5. Reward yourself – Track the progress of each of your fitness goals. Once you have reached each goal, give yourself a non-food reward such as a spa day, new clothes or a special outing.

Starting an exercise plan may not be easy, but it is vital to your health and wellness. If you have a chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease or arthritis, you should talk to your doctor about your exercise plans to make sure they will work with your health condition.

Talk to your doctor for help developing an exercise plan that is best for your body.

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