By now, you probably know that living a sedentary lifestyle is incredibly bad for your health. If you don’t exercise on a regular basis, you’ll be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, premature death, and a host of other health problems.
The solution is relatively simple: you have to exercise vigorously, and on a regular basis. But there’s a problem with this. If you’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle for many years, getting back into exercise can be extraordinarily difficult; you’ll be unfamiliar with the proper way to exercise, and your body will suffer significant strain as you push it in a multitude of ways. If you aren’t careful, you could hurt yourself or become demotivated.
So what’s the right way to start exercising after years of sedentary living?
Talk to Your Doctor
If you’re not already exercising regularly, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor, and possibly get a physical, before beginning a new regimen. If you have any underlying health conditions, or if there are specific risks you face by exercising, you’ll need to know about them.
Hire a Personal Trainer
Next, consider hiring a personal trainer. A personal trainer will work with you to evaluate your current physical conditions, set your fitness goals, and devise a customized workout routine perfectly suited to your fitness level and your long-term objectives. Personal trainers are more expensive than trying to exercise on your own, but they’ll make sure you’re exercising properly – and motivate you to keep going even when you’re feeling apathetic.
Too many newcomers to the fitness world try to make up for lost time by exercising as hard as they can during their first few days. This is a mistake, for several reasons. First, pushing yourself too hard and too quickly can lead to exercise and diminish your potential progress. Second, you could end up burning yourself out prematurely, ending your physical fitness journey before you accomplish your goals. Third, going slowly allows you to achieve small goals and see strength and endurance gains; you’ll be sore and out of commission if you rush the process.
Change Your Eating Patterns
Physical exercise is just one element of health and fitness. If you want to get better results and feel better about yourself at the same time, consider changing your eating patterns. It’s important to get a healthy mix of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and complex carbohydrates in your daily diet – and minimal junk food. This diet will provide you with enough energy that you can work out and feel strong, but not so much that it becomes impossible to lose weight. Depending on your fitness goals, you may require further adjustments to your eating; for example, if you want to build muscle, you’ll need to meet certain protein intake levels.
Find an Exercise You Genuinely Like
The early phases of your exercise journey will be exploratory, since you won’t be familiar with many exercises or the process of working out. During these phases, experiment and find exercises that you genuinely enjoy. There are plenty of options to choose from, so you should be able to discover at least a few activities that are fun. If you have fun exercises on the horizon, you’ll feel much more motivated to work out, making it easier to establish a habit. You’ll also feel better about doing the exercises you hate, since you can take breaks with something more enjoyable.
Make It a Habit
For any exercise regimen to stick, it has to become a genuine habit. If working out becomes part of your daily routine, it will be hard not to exercise; if you’ve lived a long, sedentary lifestyle, this may seem like an impossibility, but it can and will unfold before your eyes if you can make exercising a true habit.
To do this, try to exercise at the same time every day, for several days in a row, and don’t compromise. If you decide to work out after work every day, don’t skip a session just because your coworkers are going out to get drinks. You have to be committed and get at least a couple of weeks under your belt for the habit to stick with you.
Get Plenty of Rest
It may seem like getting fit is all about working out and pushing yourself, but it’s equally important to get plenty of rest. Taking days off between heavy weightlifting sessions and getting plenty of sleep are non-negotiable; it’s the only way your body will be able to rebuild your muscle tissue. If you push too hard without rest, you’ll end up compromising your results (and you’ll feel terrible in the meantime).
Be Willing to Learn
Put yourself in the mindset of a student. You’re unfamiliar with the health and fitness world and have little to no experience in this area. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes and there are going to be a lot of exercises you can’t do properly at first. Watch videos, read books, talk to your personal trainer, and get to know the other people at your gym. The more you learn, the safer you’ll be, and the more you’ll get out of exercising.
Prepare Yourself for a Motivation Crash
Most newcomers experience a “motivation crash” at some point, with lowered enthusiasm for working out. This could be due to fatigue, failing to reach a specific goal, or hitting a plateau. Almost everyone goes through phases of demotivation, so it’s perfectly normal, but you have to have a plan for how you‘re going to break through.
Are you trying to recover from the effects of an extended sedentary lifestyle? Do you want to work out regularly, but are uncomfortable doing so on your own? One of the best investments you can make is in a personal trainer, who can help you set goals, come up with an exercise plan, and ultimately achieve your vision of a healthy life. Contact me today for more details or to get started with a plan of your own!
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!