How should I start exercising if I haven’t exercised in a long time?

Ashley R. Bateman, MD
Family Medicine
If you haven't exercised in a long time, it's important to start slow when you begin an exercise regimen. This is also true for people who have arthritis. Also, if you have arthritis, be sure to modify your exercise routine when your arthritis symptoms flare. For instance, if you spent 30 minutes in the gym yesterday, but today your elbow arthritis is acting up, avoid activities that could increase your pain.

If you’ve haven’t been active in a long time, be sure to get a physical first so you can safely begin. Once cleared for exercise, start with simple activities such as walking and light resistance training. Working with an NASM certified personal trainer is also a great way to start.

It is always advised that you consult a physician before you begin any type of exercise program. After that, I would recommend that you start slow, being careful not to push yourself too hard. A walking program is a fun way to get active and can prepare your body for more rigorous demands. You can gradually increse the distance you cover and recruit a friend, relative, or your spouse to accompany you. This will help to keep you motivated and entertained during your workouts.
Take it easy at first.  Often we see injuries because individuals who used to be in great shape (sports/workingout), take some time off and try to pick it right back up at the same level of intensity as before.  This can be a dangerous approach because your joints (ligaments/tendons) and stabilizing muscles have more than likely become weaker due to the inactivity.  Ease back into intense workouts or you may find yourself wishing you had.  Hope this helps
Consulting your physician is always a smart thing to do first. By getting his approval to exercise you now could have piece of mind when starting your new exercise regimen. When beginning exercise after a long lay off it is best to get a professional assessment. This is possible through the great trainers at Nasm. This can be done through sharecare virtual trainer or one on one. This is an important factor due to knowing where your muscle imbalances are and cardiorespiratory system abillities too. Starting in the Nasm Optimum performance training model(opt) you always want to start in the stabilization phase and then progress from there. Also having the proper flexibility continuum and a program that fits your needs and goals. Another key factor is sticking to a healthy eating lifestyle. While achieving the answers from proper assessments your on your way to a great quality of life and health.

Slow and steady does it when it comes to returning to an exercise program. You want your exercise program to be effective, but you don’t want to rush into exercises your body is not ready for and ultimately end up injuring yourself. You need to build up your time, so starting off with 15-20 minutes is ideal. As you feel comfortable, as well as no pain, you can gradually add more time each time you exercise. Also, getting help from a professional will help you avoid injury.

Another thing to consider as you return to an exercise program is the reason it has been a long time since you have exercised. Was lack of time a reason? Then you need to make sure you schedule your workouts for a time you will stick to. Did you not like the type of exercises you were doing? Then you need to find activities that are enjoyable for you and you will want to do consistently. Whatever your reason, make sure you are ready to overcome it again so you don’t miss out on your exercise and health!

If you have exercised in a long time the most important thing is to be realistic about what you choose to participate in. This is not to say don't try different, new things it just means don't jump in over your head and take on too much. Choose something really fun (i.e. riding a beach cruiser, with a banana seat and tassels), start off with 15-20 minutes and add a little more each time. Deciding to train for a marathon in 4 weeks if you've never run is probably not realistic. It's probably so unrealistic that it actually sets you up for failure, decreases your self-esteem and lowers your motivation for exercise.

Rather than participate in an exercise program that someone else thinks is beneficial for you find out what activities are going to make you happy. Exercise can be fun. It does not need to happen in a gym on a treadmill. 


Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Types Of Exercise

Exercise provides many health benefits - from fitness to increased physical and mental energy. In order to prepare yourself for a exercise routine, you need to research which exercise is right for you and how to fit a new exercise ...

e program into your daily schedule.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.