If you’re new to exercising it can be hard to know where to start. You’ve likely read contradictory and confusing information about what’s best for you, and ultimately, it does depend on your body and your goals. But there are some general principles about exercise and how to get fit for beginners. 

Start slowly

Too often, exercise habits fail because people do too much too soon. If you’ve been mostly sedentary for a long time, it’s not wise to begin with advanced workouts like many of those that promise a body transformation in 90 days. It’s safer and longer lasting to begin with more basic cardio and strength exercises before taking on an “as seen on tv” workout program. Start by experiencing the benefits of walking or riding a stationary bike to build up endurance. Try bodyweight exercises like pushups or situps instead of lifting heavy weights. Starting slowly builds success, which is an important incentive as beginners are getting fit. 

Assess your limitations

A good exercise habit begins with knowing your body and your limitations. A good fitness assessment can give you a baseline to determine where to start. While it can be hard to admit that you need modifications or adaptations for common exercises, working around or with your injuries, stiff muscles, or other health challenges will prevent injuries. If you don’t prevent aggravation to your body early on, you are unlikely to develop a consistent exercise habit necessary for beginners to get fit and stay fit.

Stack your exercise

Instead of starting with a 60 minute workout, begin with shorter intervals and then stack them when you’re ready. For example, choose a time or distance and then walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes or for 1 mile. If you’re feeling good at the end of that time, re-set the timer and continue for another 10 or another mile. Likewise, start with rounds of 10 strength building exercises and repeat as your endurance and strength builds. Celebrate each round you complete, whether it’s one or five, to get fit if you’re a beginner. 

Find a partner 

Accountability is one of the best ways to ensure that you show up for your workouts. Find a partner who will motivate you and keep you accountable to your personal goals. For some, this may mean recruiting a same level partner who is also just getting started with exercise. For others, this may mean choosing someone who’s further down the path who inspires you to get fit. Still others may benefit from a personal trainer who can help devise a safe and effective exercise plan for your body and goals. 

Talk to your doctor

While this advice may seem unnecessary, it is important to check with your doctor if you are a beginner seeking to get fit. Because your doctor knows your medical history, including pre-existing conditions and potential for harm, they can help guide your exercise path. He or she will not be able to guide the specific exercises you perform, but they can tell you what kinds of movements to avoid to prevent injury or a catastrophic event. 

These top 5 tips are designed to help beginners get fit and stay fit by choosing the right exercises at the right pace for your body. What’s worked well for you? We’d love to know!