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How to Start Exercising: A Beginner's Guide

How to Start Exercising: A Beginner's Guide

Getting into a regular exercise routine can seem daunting, especially if you've never exercised consistently before. However, the health benefits of regular physical activity are well worth the effort. Exercise has been proven to reduce the risk for chronic diseases, improve mood, boost energy, and help with weight management. The key is to start slow and focus on building the habit. With patience and consistency, exercise can become a rewarding lifelong habit. This beginner's guide covers everything you need to know to get started.

Why You Should Exercise

Regular exercise provides a wide range of both physical and mental health benefits. Here are some of the top reasons you should make physical activity a part of your regular routine:

  • Improves Heart Health and Lowers Blood Pressure: Exercise strengthens your heart muscle and improves circulation, which is especially important if you spend long hours sitting. It also helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Reduces Risk of Chronic Diseases: For those in high-stress or high-intensity work environments, being physically active is vital in preventing conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer.
  • Strengthens Bones and Muscles: Regular exercise stimulates muscle-building and increases bone density, crucial for those who might not move much during the day, such as people who work from home. Weight-bearing activities are particularly effective at building strong bones and preventing osteoporosis.
  • Manages Weight: Exercise burns calories and helps regulate body weight, an essential factor for those who may have less structured routines due to working from home or irregular work hours.
  • Boosts Energy and Mood: Physical activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and releases endorphins. This is especially beneficial for combating the lethargy that can come from long periods of sitting and the mental strain of high-intensity jobs.
  • Improves Sleep: Incorporating regular exercise into your routine can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy higher quality sleep, which is crucial for recovery, especially in high-stress environments.
  • Increases Longevity: People who engage in regular physical activity tend to live longer. This is particularly significant for individuals with sedentary lifestyles, where every bit of activity counts towards extending your lifespan.

How to Start Exercising as a Beginner

a person walking on a treadmill in a home setting.

Starting an exercise routine can be daunting, especially if you're not used to being active. If your goal is to make exercise a pleasant part of your daily routine without overwhelming yourself, here are some gentle strategies to help you ease into the world of fitness:

  • Get Medical Clearance: Before you start, it's wise to speak with your doctor, especially if you have any chronic health conditions or concerns about your physical activities.
  • Start with Manageable Durations and Frequencies: Begin with short, 10-15 minute sessions of light activity, such as walking or gentle stretching, 2-3 times a week. This is not only doable but also less intimidating, making it easier to stick with it.
  • Choose Enjoyable Activities: Pick forms of exercise that feel less like a chore and more like fun. This could be anything from yoga to a leisurely bike ride. The key is to engage in activities that you actually enjoy and look forward to.
  • Recruit a Buddy: Exercise can be more enjoyable with a friend. Look for someone who also prefers lighter activities, so you can encourage each other without feeling pressured to engage in more intense workouts.
  • Track Progress: Even small victories are worth celebrating. Use a fitness tracker or a simple exercise log to note your activities. This will help you see your progress over time and keep you motivated.
  • Focus on Consistency Over Intensity: Don't worry about pushing yourself hard; instead, focus on being as regular as you can with your exercise. Consistency is key in building a sustainable habit.
  • Listen to Your Body: Always take rest days as needed, especially if you feel overly tired or sore. Remember, the goal is to make exercising a comfortable and enjoyable part of your lifestyle.
  • Balance Exercise with Nutrition: Eating well and staying hydrated will make your exercise sessions more effective and enjoyable. Focus on nourishing your body with the right foods that will help you feel energized.

By starting small and choosing activities that you enjoy, exercise will become a rewarding and integral part of your life, rather than a daunting task. This approach is perfect for those who prefer a gentler path to fitness.

Why Exercise Beginners Should Try Walking Pads

A woman stands next to a treadmill in a home office, holding a cup of coffee.

Walking is an excellent way to start exercising without overdoing it. It provides a low-impact cardio workout that is gentle on joints. However, walking outdoors comes with some downsides, like weather conditions, safety concerns, and difficulty tracking progress. That's where walking pads, also known as treadmill desks or under-desk treadmills, come in handy.

Here are some benefits of using a walking pad for beginner exercise routines:

  • Gets you moving without the extra effort of a dedicated workout. You can walk while you work.
  • It provides a consistent way to track steps, distance, calories burned, and more.
  • Allows you to exercise year-round regardless of weather.
  • Offers a safe way to walk without worrying about traffic or crime.
  • Burn more calories throughout the day. Walking pads let you be lightly active for hours.
  • Low-impact and joint-friendly. Walking is a gentle exercise for people of all fitness levels.
  • Fits easily under a standing desk. You can walk while doing your normal work.
  • A walking pad is unaffected by weather or space constraints, offering a reliable and accessible fitness solution regardless of your environment.

For exercise beginners, walking pads offer an easy way to get started being more active without much effort or disruption to your normal daily activities.

Tips for Exercising as a Beginner Using a Walking Pad

Two women are using treadmills in a home setting; one is running while the other is walking and working on a laptop at a standing desk.

Starting a new exercise routine can be challenging, but using a walking pad makes it convenient and approachable. Here are some practical tips to help you get the most out of walking on a treadmill desk as an exercise beginner:

  • Start with short sessions of just 10-15 minutes a day to get used to walking while working. It's best, to begin with brief sessions to acclimate your body to this new activity. Starting with longer durations before you've built up endurance may lead to muscle soreness, fatigue, or even injury. Begin with just 10-15 minutes of walking per day while doing desk work. Once this becomes comfortable, gradually increase the session length to 20, 30, or 60 minutes.
  • Add intervals with faster paces or increased incline for short bursts of higher intensity training. Break up the monotony and challenge yourself by adding 1-2 minute intervals at a quicker pace or higher incline 2-3 times during your walking session. Quick bursts of increased exertion boost your heart rate for added cardiovascular benefits. Just be sure to recover at an easier pace in between intense intervals.
  • Maintain good posture while walking and standing. Look straight ahead with shoulders back. Slouching can cause neck, shoulder and back pain. Engage your core muscles and stand tall. Look forward with your chin parallel to the ground rather than looking down. Proper alignment reduces strain.
  • Invest in quality shoes designed for walking and treadmill use. Proper footwear prevents injury. The impact of walking for extended periods can lead to foot, ankle, or knee pain if you aren't wearing shoes that provide adequate cushioning and support. Visit a specialty running store for appropriate walking or running shoes. Replace shoes every 300-500 miles.
  • Listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks to make the time go by faster. Zoning out to entertaining audio makes walking sessions more enjoyable and distracts you from any discomfort or boredom. Create playlists of upbeat motivational music or choose podcasts and audiobooks on topics that interest you.
  • Track your progress in a journal. Note your steps, distance, pace, calories burned and how you feel after sessions. Logging your walking pad workouts allows you to see your improvements over time. You can track metrics like steps, distance, calories and time. Also, note feelings of fatigue or soreness. Tracking progress keeps you motivated.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after walking. Hydration is crucial. Walking causes your body to perspire and lose fluids. Be sure to hydrate well by sipping water throughout your sessions. Proper hydration will give you more energy, prevent overheating and help muscles recover.
  • Focus on taking full strides with engaged abdominal muscles. This enhances efficacy. Concentrate on extending your leg fully behind you and swinging it forward using your core strength. Don't take abbreviated strides. Full strides engage more muscles to burn more calories.
  • Schedule walking sessions on your work calendar to help make it a consistent habit. Block out time on your daily work calendar dedicated to using your walking pad. Treat this blocked time just like a meeting or appointment to reinforce it as a regular habit. Consistency is key to seeing results.
  • Customize settings to include varied speeds and inclines tailored to your fitness level. Adjust the settings on your walking pad to provide an appropriate challenge for your current abilities. As your stamina improves, tweak the speed and incline higher. Tailoring the intensity prevents plateaus.
  • Stretch your calves, hamstrings and hips before and after walking to maintain flexibility. Some light stretching helps prepare your muscles and prevents post-exercise tightness and next-day soreness. Target the major lower body muscle groups used during walking.

The great thing about walking pads is you can go at your own pace while doing everyday tasks. Over time, aim for building up to getting in up to 10,000 steps per day for optimal health benefits. Walking pads give you full control to walk at an intensity and duration that feels right for you. Work toward a daily step goal like 10,000 for best results.

Final Words

Starting an exercise routine has tremendous benefits for your physical and mental health. As a beginner, the key is to start slow, be consistent, choose activities you enjoy, and use tools like walking pads that make being active more convenient. Focus on building the habit first. From there, you can always expand your fitness horizons. But getting started is the most important step. With regular exercise, you'll start feeling better, having more energy, and seeing the positive impacts throughout your life.

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