5 Steps to Starting an Exercise Routine

Do you think about exercising at least once a week, sometimes more but find it difficult to get started? And you know that it’s so much easier said than done. So many questions. Where to start? What to do? How often? The couch is so comfortable and I’m tired, I’ll start tomorrow. Besides, if I start now then I won’t be able to stop without feeling guilty. Don’t focus on the negatives, just start – 10 minutes at a time is a good start.

Be sure to see ** below for printable guides to help you.

So, here’s the basics. Start simple, you can do what you know and add new exercises to challenge yourself or when you get bored. And adding/switching exercises are definitely recommended. Just like our minds get bored doing the same exercises over and over and similarly, our bodies get familiar with the same-old, same-old too, so it’s good to exercises different muscles once in awhile.

Important – Always Check with your Dr. before starting an exercise routine! What we’re sharing here is what works for us for light to moderate exercising and that doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone.

Here’s how you start your workout routine:

  1. Pick Your Day/Time
  2. Plan Your Routine **
  3. Record Your Starting Point
  4. Perfect Your Form
  5. Record Your Activities **

A Word of Caution

Don’t overdo it ! The first day you may feel like you can do more, but start slowly and build on your success. Do  allow a 5 minute warm up (slow dynamic exercises) at least 30 minutes for your major muscles (core, arms, legs) and a 5 minute cool down (or longer warm up and cool down). We have several other blog posts where we discuss the basics of dynamic and static stretching and warm up/cool downs without the jargon that we hope you find interesting. See our Blog Posts page.


1. Pick Your Day/Time of Day Watch Calendar

You’ll want to give this some thought. Habits rely on patterns, so it’s important to get into a consistent one, meaning a pattern you can live with. Pick the days of the week that fit into your schedule – are you a morning person who is more apt to workout before the workday starts or after you get home. You can always change this, but goals are more achievable if we add cues to help us stick with them. Picking the days and times help build the cues that will help you form good habits.

And don’t worry if you change them once in awhile, but you’ll find that it’s easier if you always go to the gym at the same time, or a walk or a workout class or training session.

2. Plan Your Routine 

Now that you know when you’ll exercise, you’ll need to plan what you
Notepad want to do. If you haven’t exercised in awhile, you’ll want to start slowly. Remember, exercising is a way of life so you can think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. And always make sure to plan for Dynamic stretches before you start, do your routine, then Static stretches afterwards.

Start with a few exercises a few days a week – the important result is a healthy habit that you can live with. A habit that helps you stay active and healthy!

 ** See our Workout Routines and Journals page for Activity Guidelines and a Weekly Workout Planner with exercises to help you get started. Simply download  and print the exercises you want to do!

3. Record Your Starting Point  You Are Here

Have you ever done something and said to yourself “I wish I took a picture”? Here’s a reminder to take your picture and ask a friend (or a physical trainer at your local gym) to measure your starting point, including your weight.

Keep this in your journal and each month you’ll see your progress. And don’t get discouraged if the scale doesn’t show the results you feel it should. Remember that as you build muscle, you may weight the same, but you’ll soon begin to feel better and lose inches.

4. Perfect Your Form

I’m sure you’ve exercised before so you know what to expect. You’ll find that at first you can be a little awkward but over time you get better. Sometimes you’ll even refer back to the exercises and (if you are like me realize that you were doing more than a few incorrectly) and learn how to perfect your technique.

The next thing you’ll need to remember is to breathe. I remember it this way – inhale before exertion and exhale with exertion – that may take awhile to master. You inhale to give your body the oxygen it needs to perform the upcoming task.

5. Record Your Activities

I’ll bet you are more active than you realize.

** See our Workout Routines and Journals page, Weekly Workout Journal. Simply download the 3 pages, print and fill in the blanks!

So, between picking exercises, keeping good form, breathing properly and counting your reps and sets, you’ll never get bored!

Remember to enjoy your workout and let us know how you make out. And don’t forget to record your (or your friends) before and after story to share with us. We know you can do it!

Author: Joan E Wilder

We provide information and motivation focused on the importance of physical activity to our quality of life. It is our hope to help people invest in themselves by staying active throughout their lives. It's that important.

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