How to Get Started on Your Fitness Journey

by Chuck

Recently on social media, we were asked one of the most frequently asked questions for any coach or trainer.

How often should I exercise?

If there was a simple answer it might be: 30-minutes a day at a moderate exertion level. That’s what the American Medical Association recommends.

The problem is, nothing is ever that simple and the truth is, as it often is, “it depends.”

When I first meet a client, we sit a while, while we talk a bit about their goals, their history, their overall health, any injuries or medical conditions they have had/are dealing with, their nutrition, their support (if any), and any fears or trepidations they may be feeling.

Another question I always ask, is what is their exercise/fitness experience?

When was the last time they worked out (if ever)? What kinds of training have they tried, or what do they like to do when they work out?

If they don’t have much (or any) experience with exercise I usually recommend they start out with small increments done every day. 10-15 minutes to start. Maybe some stretch (yin) based yoga and/or walking. Do that for two to four weeks, then add 5-minutes to their output. Repeat that for another 2 weeks. Add another 5-minutes, etc. until they’re at 30-minutes per day.

Once they’ve been at 30-minutes per day for a month or two (remember, we’re trying to create a new lifestyle habit, not a quick fix short term solution that will be put aside in a short period of time), we start alternating intensities throughout the week. Moderate-to-moderately-hard output one day, a lighter day the next. Repeat that throughout the week.

Once the alternating 30-minute training schedule has been met and performed – without many misses – for 60-90 days, then we talk about adding in new variables. Resistance training (either calisthenics or weight lifting, depending on needs/wants and access to equipment). Or higher output cardio training, running, swimming, biking. Or a mix of the two.

And, none of this addresses the other possible changes we might make.

We are a HEALTH FIRST advocate. That means, in creating a healthy lifestyle we’ll also be addressing issues around, sleep, nutrition, stress (and stress reduction), mindfulness, etc.

For most people – once they’ve been training for 6-months to a year – they find they both want and can up their output. So, we build plans that, unless they also play a sport, run to about an hour a day 5-6 days a week – working on their strength, cardio, motor learning/control, and mobility – the building blocks to a high quality of life. If they play a sport it might be longer, depending on how often they practice/play their chosen sport.

One last thing: beyond exercise, it’s a good idea to move throughout the day as much as possible. Not as exercise, but because being stationary is the “enemy.” I’m sure you’ve heard that sitting is the new smoking? Well, it’s not. Not really. It is being in one relatively similar position for lengths of time that is the “enemy.”

So, if you’re a sewist, move your ironing board away from your cutting table or sewing station (or better yet all three), so you HAVE to get up and move between them. Same thing if you’re a stamper, paper crafter, quilter or painter.

Do you have an exercise/fitness plan? Tell us about what you’re doing or let us know if we can help you get started!

Here’s a TED an article that’s part of the “How to Be a Better Human” series that gets a little deeper into all of this:

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