Saturday, April 2, 2011

How to Start a Workout Routine

Today, I woke up early, had coffee and a protein shake, threw on my running clothes, and went for a run in the neighborhood. And kept running. Actually, I ended up running over 5.5 miles, according to

Let me say, I am not a runner. Today was the first day I went outside to run, this year. I have always been intimidated by running outdoors, afraid that it would be too hard and tiring. However, once I finally got out there, I felt so great and energized, that I wanted to keep going! I don't really run that fast, and I was going at a leisurely pace so I didn't get too tired by the end.

So how did I go from running adverse to enjoying it? First I should clarify that I am not a couch potato. I actually hate being sedentary, and get restless if I didn't do any physical activity for the day. In high school, I was an athlete, playing for the varsity volleyball team. But once I got to college, I didn't do any sports, and avoided the fitness center like the plague. I bought a membership, but haven't used the gym until the past couple of weeks.

After I committed to becoming healthier, I decided that it was high time to get some exercise in my daily routine. It started with taking a walk around the neighborhood for about an hour in the mornings. The weather was beautiful and warm, so I was motivated to go outside to enjoy the sunshine and warmth. Then, as good things never last, it got cold and snowed! That's when I started going to the gym.

At the gym, I started slow, and worked my way up to longer workouts. The first day, I just did a little cycling. Then I started running on the elliptical, and speed walking on the treadmill. For the past week, I have been going to the gym everyday, doing about 50 minutes of aerobics, some light weight lifting, crunches, and yoga to stretch my muscles. I could feel myself getting more fit, and it became easier to run on the machines longer. I stuck with going to the gym every morning, no matter how I felt, because after my workout, I always felt really good about myself.

Today, the weather has finally gotten a bit warmer, so I finally got out of the gym and hit the pavement running (literally, haha). I might have gone a bit overboard, today, but I didn't have to push myself to run that much, and I felt great afterwards. That can't be a bad thing, right?

The key steps to developing a workout routine is starting slow. If you are afraid of running and feeling exhausted by exercise, then you are less likely to do it. A good workout doesn't mean that you have to do it for hours, get all sweaty, and feel fatigued. Spring is the perfect time to get fit. The weather is warming up, so there's plenty to do outdoors!

Steps to go from Couch Potato to Fitness Fanatic:

  • Start by taking a walk. That was easy, right? 
  • Go for longer and longer walks, making sure to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
  • If you have a gym membership, try using an elliptical, stationary bike, or the treadmill. Don't push yourself so hard that you feel fatigued, but go at a pace to raise your heart beat.
  • Working out regularly is a habit. To form a habit, consistency is key. If you don't have time to work out everyday, make a goal, like "I will workout at least 4 times this week", and stick to it.
  • As you exercise more regularly, you will feel your fitness increase, and that you have more energy to go for longer and faster runs. If you did 25 minutes on the elliptical yesterday, and today you feel energized after 25 minutes, try going for 5-10 extra minutes longer. 
  • It is important to do something that you really enjoy. If you just hate being stuck in a sweaty gym, go outdoors to run, walk, play sports, whatever! If you have terrible allergies, join a gym, your local aquatic center, or even buy a workout DVD to do at home.
  • If you'd like, you can log your workout to see your progress. Seeing improvement can be a great motivator.
One more reminder: be sure to stay hydrated! You should drink water before, during, and after your workout. There's nothing worse than that dehydration-induced headache. Yuck.

So, question for you: What do you do, or what would you like to start doing, to get fit?


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