Fitness – how to start exercising if you’re out of shape



Key points about starting to exercise when you're out of shape

  • Starting to exercise might seem too difficult and you might have questions about what you should be doing and how to stay motivated.
  • However you probably know that exercise has many benefits for your physical and mental health.
  • Exercising doesn't need to cost a lot and can be done at home.
  • Read on to find out how to get going and what can help you along your exercise journey.
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Starting an exercise programme can seem a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re out of shape or haven’t exercised for a while.

You may be asking yourself lots of questions like: What exercise should I do? How long for? When should I do it? Will I embarrass myself? How do I stay motivated?

The health benefits of regular exercise are numerous.

Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of several health conditions including heart disease and stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, osteoarthritisosteoporosisdepression and anxiety.

The other great thing about exercise is you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it – in fact it’s often completely free and can be done in the comfort of your own home.

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1. Make the decision

It may seem obvious, but the first thing to do is make the decision that you want to start exercising regularly to improve your health. Read about the benefits of walking

2. Get a health check if you have any concerns or questions

Once you’ve made the decision, then it’s a good idea to have a health check with your healthcare provider, especially if you’re older and/or if you have any underlying health conditions. 

3. Set some goals 

Whether your goal is to take the stairs instead of the lift each day at work, or to complete a triathlon, set some goals so you have something to work towards. Write your goals down to make them more concrete. 

4. Find something you enjoy 

Pick a form of exercise that you enjoy. Whether it’s walking, swimming, cycling or playing a sport, if it’s something you enjoy it will make it easier to stay motivated and stick with your regime. Have a look at some of the simple exercise videos to help you get started on our physical activity – 7 good reasons to exercise page. 

5. Incorporate activity into your day

Try incorporating exercise into your everyday life. For example, get off the bus a stop or two earlier. The HealthEd, NZ recommends(external link) adults do at least 2½ hours of moderate (or 1¼ hours of vigorous activity) spread throughout the week. 

6. Start low and go slow 

When kicking off your exercise regime, make sure you start off gently and do something low impact so you don’t injure yourself or overdo it. Then you can gradually build up and do more. 

7. Warm up and down 

Warming up properly before you exercise is key to preventing injuries, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve been active. It’s just as important to warm down properly as well. 

8. Stay hydrated 

Remember to drink lots of water and stay hydrated

9. Listen to your body 

Listen to your body when you exercise. If you feel like what you’re doing is too much, then back off a bit or have a rest. This is especially important in the early days when you’re getting back into exercise and may have little or no fitness. It’s amazing how quickly you can gradually build up your fitness, however, so don’t give up. 

10. Eat a balanced diet 

Along with regular exercise, eating a healthy, balanced diet is key to good health. Eating well will also give you more energy to exercise!

If you have any questions or concerns about starting an exercise programme or your overall health, please contact your healthcare provider.

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Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

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