Embarking on a fitness journey might appear challenging at first. But once you know how to get started with beginner exercise tips, and you the reap the rewards—weight loss and increased physical and mental health—you’ll wonder why you didn’t start exercising sooner.
Take Andrea, for example, she battled with knee pain after a sporting injury. And even though she visited a physiotherapist regularly as a part of her rehabilitation, she still hadn’t fully regained her former strength years later. Feeling drained, tired and grumpy often, and noticing that she’d put on considerable weight, Andrea wanted to start exercising to get herself back on track to build up her fitness. So, she decided to follow these beginner exercise tips.
Let’s look at what Andrea, and others, who are also new to exercising, have discovered.
Benefits of Exercise
Regular exercise has numerous benefits for both physical and mental health. Andrea found that exercising regularly is a great way to shed excess weight and get in shape. Plus, it triggered the production and release of endorphins, which reduced Andrea’s pain perception to promote positive feelings and alleviate depression.
“I feel so much better after starting a regular exercise program,” said Andrea. “The way I think and move have changed considerably. It’s been a tough journey to get here. There were times that I doubted that I would ever feel better. In fact, I started thinking that I’d hurt forever and that there was no way for me to be strong again. This led to depression and at times, a dependence on medication.”
And Andrea isn’t the only person to feel this way. Globally it’s estimated that 1 in 5 adults suffer from chronic pain (inflammation that lasts longer than six months), and 1 in 10 adults are diagnosed with chronic pain annually. Thankfully, in many cases, regular exercise can reduce chronic pain and improve the quality of life for many people.
It’s also worth noting that regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases while boosting your energy levels and cognitive functions. Despite these advantages, approximately 55% of Australians don’t meet the physical activity guidelines. So, let’s look at the physical and mental benefits of exercise in greater detail, before we look at how you can start exercising.
Physical Health Benefits
Regular exercise improves your physical health in several ways. It can strengthen your muscles, improve your cardiovascular fitness, and even boost your immune system. A recent study from the University of Cambridge found that just 11 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activity per day can lower your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.
Yes, you heard right. That’s 11 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activity.
What is Aerobic Activity?
Aerobic activities also known as cardiovascular (cardio) workouts are any exercises that get your heart pumping and make your breathing harder. Walking, dancing, running, jogging, cycling, and swimming are all great examples. You can measure the intensity of an activity by your heart rate and how hard you’re breathing. If you can talk but not sing while doing an activity, it’s moderate intensity. If you can’t carry on a conversation, it’s vigorous intensity.
What Does the Study Show?
The study looked at data from 196 studies, totaling over 30 million adult participants who were followed for an average of 10 years. The results showed that adults who did the minimum recommended amount of exercise, 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity per week, had a 31% lower risk of passing away, a 29% lower risk of passing away from cardiovascular disease, and a 15% lower risk of passing away from cancer. The same amount of exercise was linked with a 27% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 12% lower risk when it came to cancer.
How Much Exercise Do You Need?
Even if you can’t fit a full workout into your busy day, just 11 minutes of exercise can make a difference. Accumulating 75 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, which is about 11 minutes of activity per day, was associated with a 23% lower risk of premature death. Getting active for 75 minutes on a weekly basis was also enough to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 17% and cancer by 7%. Even if you can’t fit a full workout into your busy day, just 11 minutes of exercise can make a difference. Accumulating 75 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, which is about 11 minutes of activity per day, was associated with a 23% lower risk of early death. Getting active for 75 minutes on a weekly basis was also enough to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 17% and cancer by 7%. Beyond 150 minutes per week, additional benefits were smaller.
Mental Health Benefits
Exercise is not just beneficial for your physical health. It can also have a positive impact on your mental health. Regular exercise has been shown to help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost your overall mental well-being. The University of Manchester and CQ University conducted a meta-analysis of 141 studies examining the effects of exercise on mental health. These analysts found that regular exercise can have a positive impact on anxiety, depression, and overall psychological well-being.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are natural feel-good chemicals that help to reduce stress and promote feelings of happiness and well-being. Endorphins act as natural painkillers and mood elevators that help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, while also promoting a sense of well-being. Exercise can also help to improve your self-confidence and self-esteem.
Exercise also helps reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is often elevated in people with depression. By reducing cortisol levels, exercise alleviates anxiety. In addition, exercise improves self-esteem and confidence helping you to feel better about yourself and your body, which leads to improved self-esteem and confidence.
The Best Exercises
While any type of exercise can be beneficial for mental health, some types of exercise are more effective than others. Aerobic exercise, such as running, cycling, and swimming, is particularly effective at reducing anxiety and depression. Strength training, such as weightlifting, can also be effective at improving psychological well-being. Andrea incorporated both into her exercise routine and it wasn’t long before she started to notice changes.
“I wanted to build up my fitness, muscle strength and also stamina, so I decided to start with walking daily just to the corner and back,” said Andrea. “At first it was difficult. My knee really ached. But after a few weeks, going to the corner and back was easy. So I started doing more. Several weeks later I was walking a kilometre. While I still felt my knee pain, it wasn’t half as bad. This encouraged me to do even more because I was feeling the rewards.”
Types of Exercise
While any type of exercise can be beneficial for mental health, some types of exercise are more effective than others. Aerobic exercise, such as running, cycling, and swimming, is particularly effective at reducing anxiety and depression. Strength training, such as weightlifting, can also be effective at improving psychological well-being. Therefore, understanding the different types of exercise helps you determine what will work best for you. Here are two of the most common types of exercise:
Cardiovascular exercise, also known as cardio or aerobic activity, is any type of exercise that gets your heart rate up and increases your breathing rate. Examples of cardio include running, cycling, swimming, and jumping jacks. When you do cardio, your muscles use oxygen to generate energy, which improves your cardiovascular (heart and lung) health and endurance.
Cardio is a great way to burn calories and lose weight, but it’s also important for overall health. Regular cardio can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. It can also improve your mood and reduce stress.
Strength training, also known as resistance training, involves using weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight to build muscle strength and endurance. Examples of strength training exercises include push-ups, squats, and lifting weights.
Strength training is important for improving overall muscle tone and increasing bone density. It can also boost your metabolism, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, strength training can help prevent injuries and improve your posture.
Both cardiovascular exercise and strength training are important for overall health and fitness. It’s recommended to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week and 2-3 strength training sessions per week.
Tips for Beginners
So now that you know why exercise is beneficial and what types work better than others, let’s look at how you can get started. Here are some tips to help you get going:
Beginner Exercise Tip #1: Talk To Your Health Care Provider
Many people often begin a fitness routine without consulting their health care provider (doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist). However, this practice may be more harmful than beneficial. For starters, you may have a higher risk of sustaining serious injuries or health complications, especially if you already have preexisting conditions. Therefore, make it a point to visit your doctor before starting the process. This way, you can determine what to do to ensure safe workouts. For instance, you may have to undertake arthritis treatment to alleviate discomfort and pain before you start cardio or strength-training activities.
A visit to your health care provider will help you determine what exercise is best suited for your needs. For example, sprinting may not be ideal if you have a heart problem. In this case, your healthcare provider may recommend other practical workouts like walking, riding a bike slowly, swimming, and so on. It’s also worth noting that some health professional can also provide a specialised diet to suit your fitness needs.
Beginner Exercise Tip #2: Start Slow
It’s important to ease into a new workout routine. Jumping in too quickly can cause injury, burnout, or frustration. Begin with low-impact exercises, like walking, swimming, or yoga. As your body adjusts, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. This strategy gives your muscles, ligaments and systems time to adapt to the changes you’re making so that they grow and develop, becoming stronger to cope with the increased load and expectations.
Beginner Exercise Tip #3: Set Realistic Goals
Don’t set yourself up for failure by aiming too high too soon. Instead, set realistic goals that you can achieve. For example, aim to exercise for 30 minutes once or twice a week, rather than committing to an hour-long workout every day. As you progress, you can adjust your goals and gradually challenge yourself more.
It’s important to set goals before starting any exercise routine. This way, you can keep yourself motivated and accountable. By recording your fitness goals and success, you become aware of what you’re doing and why, and you’re able to congratulate yourself. Set attainable goals to achieve your desired outcome.
Experts recommend breaking your goals into smaller parts, as it’s more measurable and achievable. For instance, you can aim to lose 1.8 kilograms (4 pounds) weekly if your goal is to shed 22 kilograms (50 pounds) before the year ends. Setting a time limit on your goals will also prompt you to exercise regularly, so feel free to consider this.
Track Your Progress
Keeping track of your progress can be an excellent motivator. Here are some ways to do it:
- Use a fitness app or a fitness tracker to monitor your progress.
- Take progress photos. Looking back at old photos can be a great way to see how far you’ve come.
- Keep a journal or a fitness diary. Write down how you feel after each workout and track your progress.
By rewarding yourself and tracking your progress, you will stay motivated throughout your fitness journey.
- Set achievable milestones for yourself and celebrate when you reach them. For example, treat yourself to a movie or a special meal.
- Use your favourite activity as a reward after completing your exercise routine. For instance, if you love reading, allow yourself some time to read after you finish your workout.
- Create a reward system based on how often you exercise. For instance, if you exercise consistently for a week, treat yourself to a small gift.
Beginner Exercise Tip #4: Make Regular Exercise a Habit
Notably, you can achieve mastery and success with consistency and diligence; working out is no exception. Therefore, make a habit of exercising regularly to reap its full benefits. As a motivator, set a specific time for this activity, factoring it into your daily schedule. For instance, you can work out from 5:30 am to 6:30 am daily if you have to start work from 8 am.
Beginner Exercise Tip #5: Find a Workout Buddy
Working out with a friend can make exercise more enjoyable and hold you accountable. Find someone who has similar fitness goals, and schedule regular workouts together. Having a workout buddy can make you more likely to show up, push yourself harder, and have fun while exercising.
Beginner Exercise Tip #6: Mix it Up
Doing the same workout every day can get boring and lead to burnout. Mix up your routine by trying different types of exercise, like cycling, weightlifting, or dance classes. Not only will this keep things interesting, but it will also challenge your body in new ways and prevent plateaus.
Beginner Exercise Tip #7: Avoid Overdoing It
Many beginners make the mistake of overdoing it when starting an exercise routine. It’s important to start slowly and gradually increase intensity and duration of workouts. Pushing too hard can lead to injury and burnout, which can be discouraging and cause you to give up on your exercise routine altogether.
It’s recommended to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, but this can be broken down into smaller increments throughout the week. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard too quickly.
Beginner Exercise Tip #8: Warm Up and Cool Down
Another common mistake that beginners make is skipping warm-up and cool-down exercises. Warm-up exercises help to prepare your body for the workout by increasing blood flow and loosening up muscles. Skipping a warm-up can increase the risk of injury.
Cool-down exercises help to gradually bring your heart rate back to its resting rate and prevent blood from pooling in your legs. Skipping a cool-down can cause dizziness and fainting, especially after a high-intensity workout.
Make sure to include a warm-up and cool-down in your exercise routine. A warm-up can include light cardio, stretching, and mobility exercises. A cool-down can include static stretches and foam rolling.
Beginner Exercise Tips Key Takeaways
Congratulations, you made it to the end of this beginner exercise tips guide. By now, you should have a good understanding of exercise and its importance, and how to keep yourself motivated, and why starting slow and steady wins the race. Remember that while exercise can be challenging, it should also be fun and rewarding.
It’s important to find a form of exercise that you enjoy and that fits into your lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to try new things and mix up your routine to keep things interesting. And don’t forget to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs to recover.
By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier you in no time. So, grab your trainers, put on your favourite playlist, and get moving. Your body will thank you for it.
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