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How to Start an Exercise Program

Updated on November 7, 2012

These 10 tips can show you how to do it once and for all!

Now that a new year is here, many people will be looking to start a new exercise program or renew their commitment to an old one. Here are a few ideas to help you get the most out of your new fitness routine.


10 Ways to Get your Exercise Program off the Ground

1) First, see a doctor to get a physical evaluation and make sure you are healthy enough to start an exercise program. Most people will not have a problem with exercising, but you'll want to be sure that you have no underlying health issues that could cause problems when you start a new program.

2) Find a form of exercise that you love to do. If your exercise program feels like drudgery, you won't be able to maintain it for long, no matter how much will power you have. On the other hand, if you find something you enjoy doing, you'll be able to get a good workout in and hardly notice the effort.

3) Go at your own pace. This is very important. Always do a little less than you think you can. This will help you stay consistent with your program. It will also allow you to minimize the stiffness and soreness that you are likely to feel after your first few sessions.

4) Variety is good. Not only to spice up your routine, but also in terms of the physiological effects. For example, you might go swimming one day for some cardio, the next day hit the weight room to build strength, and play some tennis the following day to improve your hand-eye coordination. This keep's you on your toes mentally, and physically it will help you become a more well rounded athlete.

5) Find someone of similar ability to join you. Whether it's a tennis buddy, personal trainer, dance partner or team sport player, having someone else to work out with will keep you motivated and accountable. It's easy to blow off a planned work out on your own, but if you know you have to meet your friend at the gym, it helps get you out the door.

6) Consistency is the key to the success of your fitness program. It is much better to do a little bit of exercise each day than to do a lot of exercise one day and then nothing for several days afterwards. Plan to exercise every day, rather than three or four times a week, because once you miss the first day, it's easier to skip the next and so on.

7) Don't allow a bad day or week to derail your exercise schedule. There will be days or weeks where you miss your routine for one reason or another. That's ok, but some people view a bad day as a sign that their program isn't working and drop out altogether. If you miss a session or even a few in a row, just get back on the horse (or treadmill) and carry on. We can't do anything about lost time, but you can make a commitment to success going forward.

8) Make time for your exercise program. The number one reason people give for not exercising is that they don't have time. It's up to you to make time. The benefits of exercise, physically, mentally and spiritually can add so much to your life in terms of energy, vitality, and happiness. Setting aside a few minutes each day to exercise is an investment that will pay big dividends in the quality of your life.

9) Set goals and reward yourself when you reach them. Setting goals gives you a way to track your progress and gives you a sense of accomplishment. It can also help you maintain motivation when the going gets tough. Your goals can be anything you like, but they should be specific, measurable, and realistic. Break your big goals down into a series of smaller goals to make it easier, and give yourself small rewards as you achieve each milestone.

10) Be prepared for a bit of a struggle at first. Nothing is ever easy in the beginning and exercise is no exception. It does take some dedication to get out there, especially at first. The good news is that it gets easier as you go along. Once you get used to the routine, it will get easier and your body and mind will begin to look forward to your daily exercise sessions. Eventually, it will feel unnatural NOT to get out there and be active.

These tips will help you get the most out of your fitness plan. It does require some effort in both the planning and execution, but it will be worth it lost pounds and increased energy and vitality. Not to mention the satisfaction that you are doing something important to challenge yourself and set a great example for your friends and family to follow.

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other - Lessons Learned in 30 Years of Running

If you like this lens, you might be interested in my new book, Putting One Foot in Front of the Other. I've been a competitive runner since I joined my first track club at the age of 11, and ran for my high school and university track teams. I've also run 14 marathons as an adult runner, including the Boston marathon in 2003 and 2007.

Here's a review of the book:

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other - Lessons Learned in 30 Years of Running is a compilation of time-tested advice for getting the most of your runing.

Inside you'll find tips on many of the "soft skills" of running that experienced runners learn over time, but that many "how-to" running books don't cover. The book includes chapters on such topics as how to build your confidence as a runner, how to recover properly from your workouts, race tactics, and how to avoid and treat common running injuries. You'll also find sections on the most common training tools that runners use such as how to design an interval workout, how to include hill training (one of the secrets of the top African runners) in your program, and the answer to the common question of, "How fast should I go on my daily runs?"

Whether you're a new, intermediate or advanced runner, Putting One Foot in Front of the Other offers tips that will help you get the most out of your running.

The ebook and print versions are available from, to order, just click below and choose which version you want.

Let's hear your comments!

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    • agoofyidea profile image

      agoofyidea 6 years ago

      Excellent advice. I hope it helps lots of people reach their fitness goals.

    • profile image

      ShamanicShift 7 years ago

      This lens has given me a motivating boost!

    • DanMoriarity LM profile image

      DanMoriarity LM 7 years ago

      @JackieM293: Good luck on your new regime! All the best to you this year!

    • JackieM293 profile image

      JackieM293 7 years ago

      New year, new regime, looking forward to getting started on Monday. Thanks for reminding me how important goals are! J

    • DanMoriarity LM profile image

      DanMoriarity LM 7 years ago

      @dwnovacek: You're welcome, glad I could help. Thanks for the Angel Blessings and good luck with your exercise program!

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 7 years ago

      This is some great advice, and it comes to me at a time when I really need it! Thanks for this lens and Angel Blessings to you!

    • DanMoriarity LM profile image

      DanMoriarity LM 8 years ago

      @HowToSaveMoneyNow: Thnaks for stopping by. Glad you liked it!

    • profile image

      HowToSaveMoneyNow 8 years ago

      Great Lens!! I like it, and I rated it a 5!