Today’s blog focuses on a question I get all the time: when I start exercising, should I jump in with two feet so I see results faster, or should I start out slowly? On January 29 of this year, I wrote a blog (Don’t set Yourself up for Failure: Why Baby Steps are Important for Change) that focused on the importance of taking baby steps when implementing changes in your life, and this blog follows along with those suggestions. As with any other habit in your life you’re wishing to change, you will see the most success by taking baby steps and taking the change slowly.
It is important to be realistic when setting exercise goals for yourself. Starting small with a goal you KNOW you can achieve will keep you from getting discouraged and will allow you to progress without becoming overwhelmed. Setting obtainable goals will also help you work on consistency – if you’re miserable during your exercise and feel like you’re going to fail, you’ll want to stop exercising before it becomes a habit. Once you’ve been exercising consistently and exercise becomes a habit, you won’t even think twice about heading to the gym (or hitting the pavement for a brisk walk)!
Taking small steps when beginning an exercise routine will help you determine an appropriate starting level and will help keep you from getting injured. If you start out with too much, not only will you likely become discouraged and want to give up, you run the risk of seriously injuring yourself. If you’re injured, you obviously won’t physically be able to exercise, and you probably won’t want to exercise ever again. Even some muscle soreness may discourage continuing your exercise routine.
If you’re thinking of starting to exercise, including both aerobic (exercises that increase your breathing and heart rate) and anaerobic exercises (resistance training) will provide you with the most benefits. I suggest finding some sort of physical activity you enjoy doing. This might be playing basketball or dancing or perhaps something more traditional like jogging or walking. Lifting weights, doing Pilates, or taking a class that uses resistance bands might be enjoyable forms of anaerobic exercise.
Exercise provides a multitude of benefits – besides losing weight, reducing stress, having more energy, and feeling better overall, exercise has many health benefits. Exercise can reverse some forms of heart disease, may help prevent some forms of cancer, helps ease arthritis pain, and helps lesson symptoms of depression.
Whatever kind(s) of exercise you enjoy and decide to incorporate into your routine, just remember to ALWAYS START SLOWLY. It takes time to form any new habit, and the same goes for exercise. Before beginning any form of exercise, always consult with your doctor.
Think positive, stay active, and smile. -A