How to Begin Your Fitness Journey

Exercise Goals

Exercise Goals

These extra pounds could even be contributing to any back pain, knee pain, hip pain, etc. They want to begin exercising, but state “I’ve tried working out in the past, but quickly injured myself as a result”. We hear the hesitance in their voice, understandably so, and ultimately the question becomes what, where and how much should I exercise?

Changing just a few aspects of your routine can keep you on track to achieving your goals.

What Kind of Exercises Have You Enjoyed Doing in the Past?

This is an important question because you’ll find that after a few weeks of doing something you don’t enjoy, there’s only one outcome. You’ll find yourself back on the couch, giving up on the tedious routine you’ve gotten yourself into.

Are you more of an outdoor or indoor person?

If you’re an outdoor person, you might steer clear from the gym. If not, you’ll most likely dread spending those few hours of your day cooped up inside in close quarters with others, when you’d rather be outside getting fresh air.

Consider hiking, walking, going on a run or taking a bike ride instead. Who would want to put the effort and energy into something they dislike? After a few weeks, it’ll be boring and will start to become a hassle. If you live in an extremely hot or cold climate, it may not be the best for you. It’s almost essential to find exercise and activities that you take pleasure in or somewhat like in order to continue on your fitness journey in the long run.

On the other hand, some people like to take risks and do things that they’ve never done before or that challenge them. If you’re new to working out and aren’t really sure what you enjoy, it can be fun to try a few different things to see what suits you and challenges you to be better. You can explore group fitness classes at the gym, hike the mountain you live next to but never dared to hike, or even work towards the 5k that’s being held in your city in a few months. Coming from experience, it’s a great feeling when you succeed in, or even finish, something that challenges you.

With whatever you choose to do, it’s important to listen to your body. Doing too much too soon will not result in the best outcome and will feel almost like a chore, rather than a lifestyle.

If a certain exercise, machine or pace is putting too much strain on your body, either switch to a different, less straining exercise or decrease the weight. Of course, feeling sore or having a few aches after a workout is normal. But, it shouldn’t reproduce symptoms like pains that linger for days. Start off slowly within the first couple of weeks and gradually increase as your body gets accustomed to the new movements and demands that you’re placing on your muscles and joints. Doing too much can increase the chance of injury and won’t allow your body the rest that it craves.

Also, setting a goal from the beginning will allow you to determine what you need to do in order to achieve those goals and reach the finish line. Do you only want to lose a couple of pounds? Enter a fitness competition? Lead a healthier lifestyle? Complete a half marathon? All of these affect how much effort you put into your journey and the type of routine you’ll have to keep up with. Everything needs to be relevant to your end goal. For example, hitting the weight room won’t necessarily have the same effects on weight loss as certain cardiovascular activities will.

The “When” Question is Also Key in Starting Your Fitness Journey

Setting aside time in your busy day isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. Trust me. Just do what fits best with your life and your daily routine. If you’d rather finish off your workday by going to the gym right after than do it! The gym can be a bit daunting for those just starting out, so maybe you’d rather go to the gym either later or earlier in the day to avoid the ‘peak’ times. This will give you a quieter and less crowded atmosphere to focus on yourself. If you’re an outdoor exerciser, the weather can also affect when you work out. If it’s freezing in the morning but warm in the afternoon (as many Phoenicians know all too well), then consider what condition you feel best working out in. If you’re not a morning person but decide that you’d like to wake up every day at 6 in the morning to run before work, it isn’t going to be the easiest thing to do. One of the biggest mistakes you can make on your fitness journey is choosing a time that doesn’t coincide with your schedule or that doesn’t feel natural.

So this January, think about a time that works best for you, exercises that you enjoy, and goals that you want to achieve. In doing so, your fitness journey won’t just last through January, it will last for life.

Check out the “Health” category on my blog page for even more practical advice on how to continue to maintain your health.

If you have questions or concerns, call or text one of our PTs at 623.486.3333.

Check out the “Health” category
Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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