How to Start Exercising When You Have No Freakin’ Clue!
So many people are told to exercise by their physician, but are not given to the tools or information to do so. Let’s start with the adult recommendations per the 2008 Activity Guidelines for Americans.
It recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity and muscle strengthening at least two days per week that work all major muscle groups.
So what does that mean? How do I know if an activity is moderate intensity and aerobic? What are the major muscle groups and how do I strengthen them?
I smell a hack in the air…
The good thing is that the 150 minutes can be broken down into segments which is great to know if you’re new to exercise or short on time. Many people don’t start because of the intimidation factor. Some other roadblocks include fear of the unknown or results taking too long to see. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013 states that about 20% of U.S. adults meet both aerobic activity and muscle strengthening guidelines.
My hack suggestion? Make the choice to just try and then start with movement. Set a goal to do 5 minutes at a time and gradually increase it. Remember, you can break down the 150 minutes into segments so make that hack work mama!
How do I know if an activity is moderate intensity and aerobic?
Aerobic means that your heart rate increases and you should be able to tell because you’re breathing harder and faster.
- At moderate intensity you should be able to speak a complete sentence comfortably, but with more difficulty than if you were at rest.
- You should not be able to sing a song comfortably.
The gym intimidates most beginners. If this is you, then start with brisk walking and even household chores such as cleaning or mowing the lawn. You can even make it fun like playing a short game of hide and seek with the kids in your family.
What are the major muscle groups and how do I strengthen them?
The guidelines list the major muscle groups as legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.
You can strengthen them by adding a form of resistance when you exercise those muscles. For beginners there is nothing wrong with starting with body weight. Your trainer will work with you to ensure you have the proper form first to avoid injury and help you get the most out of it.
Reps & Sets explained
A recurring question that I receive as a trainer is how many repetitions (reps) and sets of each exercise should a beginner do. A rep is one complete movement of the exercise and one set contains the number of reps. You want to keep doing reps until the last few are difficult to complete alone.
This number is going to be different for different people so do not get into the habit of comparing yourself to others. One strategic hack to efficient training is to use exercises that work multiple major muscle groups in one exercise.
Speak with a professional
Always consult your physician before starting any exercise program. If you have health issues, disease states, or are on medications your physician may also want to work with your trainer to provide guidance on how to adjust exercise to best suit you.
The best workouts are when you don’t even feel like you’re working out. You are enjoying yourself and the exercise becomes a bonus. For some people that may be dancing, swimming, hiking or intricate relay races.
For me it’s martial arts.
I encourage you to move! It may take some time, but find some type of movement that you enjoy doing and make it a fun experience to take care of yourself. Exercise is more than physical. You will find an incredible gain in mental strength and your naturally happy mood will thank you!
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Thanks for hanging out with me!
Free sample workout!
Enjoy this quick and easy body weight starter workout to get your body moving. The goal here is to get your muscles and heart used to healthy movements.
These are some basic, fundamental exercises that are fun to build on so go ahead and get the hang of them now. The jumping jacks and squats will not only help strengthen your muscles, but they will get your heart rate up and improve circulation.
Your goal is 3 sets of 12 reps. Complete each exercise 12 times. That is one set. Repeat for 2 more sets. Do your best and leave me a comment to let me know how it goes!
Jumping jacks – Standing with feet together, knees slightly bent, and arms at sides. Jump on balls of feet while raising arms overhead and separating legs to sides landing on the balls of your feet. Jump again on the balls of feet while lowering arms to sides and returning legs to standing position to complete one rep.
Lateral arm raises – Start in standing position with arms resting at sides. Engage the shoulder muscles to raise straight arms out to sides until they are in line with the shoulders. Return arms to sides to complete one rep.
Squats – Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Push your hips back as you sit back into your heels and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Really sink into your heels and be sure not to lift your feet. Feel free to use a chair about knee height until you get the hang of it. Return to standing position pushing hips forward to complete one rep.
Standing wall push-ups – Face a wall, standing a little farther than arm’s length away. Feet are shoulder-width apart. Lean your body forward and put your palms flat against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart. Slowly breathe in as you bend your elbows and lower your upper body toward the wall in a slow, controlled motion. Breathe out as you push against the wall to return to starting position to complete one rep.
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