How to Tips for Starting a Fitness Program


Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight — and even improve your sleep habits and self-esteem. And there’s more good news. You can start a fitness program in only five steps.

1. Assess your fitness level

You probably have some idea of how fit you are. But assessing and recording baseline fitness scores can give you benchmarks against which to measure your progress. To determine your aerobic and muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition, consider recording:

  • Your pulse rate before and immediately after walking 1 mile (1.6 kilometers)
  • How long it takes to walk 1 mile or 400 meters, or how long it takes to run 1.5 miles (2.41 kilometers)
  • Number of half sit-ups, standard pushups or modified pushups you can do at a time
  • How far you can reach forward while seated on the floor with your legs in front of you
  • Your waist circumference, just above your hipbones
  • Your body mass index BMI-chart

2. Design your fitness program

It’s easy to say that you’ll exercise every day. But you’ll need a plan. As you design your fitness program, keep these points in mind:

Consider your fitness goals.

  • Are you starting a fitness program to help lose weight? Or do you have another motivation, such as preparing for a marathon? Having clear goals can help you gauge your progress and stay motivated.

Create a balanced routine.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
  • For example, try to get about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days of the week. Also, aim to incorporate strength training of all the major muscle groups into a fitness routine at least two days a week.

Start low and progress slowly.

  • If you’re just beginning to exercise, start cautiously and progress slowly. If you have an injury or a medical condition, consult your doctor or an exercise therapist for help designing a fitness program that gradually improves your range of motion, strength, and endurance.

Build activity into your daily routine.

  • Finding time to exercise can be a challenge. To make it easier, schedule time to exercise as you would any other appointment. Plan to watch your favorite show while walking on the treadmill, read while riding a stationary bike, or take a break to go for a walk at work.

Plan to include different activities.

  • Different activities (cross-training) can keep exercise boredom at bay. Cross-training using low-impact forms of activity, such as biking or water exercise, also reduces your chances of injuring or overusing one specific muscle or joint.
  • Plan to alternate among activities that emphasize different parts of your body, such as walking, swimming and strength training.

Allow time for recovery.

  • Many people start exercising with frenzied zeal — working out too long or too intensely — and give up when their muscles and joints become sore or injured. Plan time between sessions for your body to rest and recover.

Put it on paper

  • A written plan may encourage you to stay on track.

3. Assemble your Equipment

You’ll probably start with athletic shoes. Be sure to pick shoes designed for the activity you have in mind. For example, running shoes are lighter in weight than cross-training shoes, which are more supportive.

If you’re planning to invest in exercise equipment, choose something that’s practical, enjoyable and easy to use. You may want to try out certain types of equipment at a fitness center before investing in your equipment.

You might consider using fitness apps for smart devices or other activity tracking devices, such as ones that can track your distance, track calories burned or monitor your heart rate.

4. Get started

Now you’re ready for action. As you begin your fitness program, keep these tips in mind:

Start slowly and build up gradually.

  • Give yourself plenty of time to warm up and cool down with easy walking or gentle stretching. Then speed up to a pace you can continue for five to 10 minutes without getting overly tired.
  • As your stamina improves, gradually increase the amount of time, you exercise. Work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

Break things up if you have to.

  • You don’t have to do all your exercise at one time so that you can weave in activity throughout your day. Shorter but more-frequent sessions have aerobic benefits, too.
  • Exercising in 10-minute sessions three times a day may fit into your schedule better than a single 30-minute session.

Be creative.

  • Maybe your workout routine includes various activities, such as walking, bicycling or rowing. But don’t stop there. Take a weekend hike with your family or spend an evening ballroom dancing. Find activities you enjoy to add to your fitness routine.

Listen to your body.

  • If you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, take a break. You may be pushing yourself too hard.

Be flexible.

  • If you’re not feeling good, permit yourself to take a day or two off.

5. Monitor your progress

Retake your fitness assessment six weeks after you start your program and then again every few months. You may notice that you need to increase the amount of time you exercise to continue improving.

Or you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you’re exercising just the right amount to meet your fitness goals.

If you lose motivation, set new goals or try a new activity. Exercising with a friend or taking a class at a fitness center may help, too.

Final Thoughts:

Starting an exercise program is an important decision. But it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can establish a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you have anything that you’d like to share or any opinions on any of the content on my site, please do speak up. I look forward to your comments, questions and the sharing of ideas.

Note: Thank-you for supporting this website through purchases you make on the provided affiliate links.
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  1. Carlos said:

    Nice guide. I think the most important thing is to build exercise into your daily routine. Even if you “don’t have time” to exercise, you can exercise as you go like doing this such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, or walking (or riding a bike) to the store that’s only a few blocks away instead of driving all the time. There are lots of little healthy and more fit lifestyle replacements such as these that everyone – no matter how busy – can easily fit into their day.

    March 17, 2018
    • Hi Carlos, you’re right.You gave a few good examples of how to fit physical activity into your life. Thanks for sharing, Robert

      March 17, 2018
  2. Mia Batoy said:

    I’ve been trying to start a workout program because I want to lose weight.It is frustrating because I don’t think I ‘m doing it right and gave up easily.Thanks to this article, it enlightened me on how to start.I agree that it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one for you to actually enjoy working out you should have to be creative about it too.

    March 8, 2018
    • Hi Mia, I’m glad that this article helped you to begin working out. Come back and share with us how you are doing. Thanks for sharing, Robert

      March 9, 2018
  3. Peachy said:

    I totally agree with starting slowly and building up gradually. For a couch potato like me, starting a fitness program alone could be overwhelming, let alone building up on your routine. A lot of people give up because of the strain of forcing themselves too much at the beginning of a routine.

    March 8, 2018
    • Hello Peachy, starting off slow and gradual is vital in the beginning. As you grow stronger gradually increase the amount and intensity of your exercising. Please come back and share with us how you’re doing with exercising. Thanks for joining in, Robert

      March 9, 2018
  4. Rae said:

    Thanks for the helpful and valuable tips! I’ve been meaning to start my own fitness program but don’t know how. Good thing I saw this post!

    March 8, 2018
    • Hello Rae, I’m glad you found this article helpful. Please come back and share with us how you’re doing with your fitness program. Thanks for joining in, Robert

      March 9, 2018
  5. Helen Stewart said:

    Hi Robert!
    I started running about a year ago to try to exercise with my brother whenever possible (he is a real athlete and will take part in the next Boston Marathon). I still cannot keep up with his pace, but it is so nice to see that, for someone who couldn’t run 2 minutes, I am now able to cover the half marathon distance! But I wasn’t evolving until I bought a smart watch to track my progress – that definitely changed everything for me. So I think you are 100% right when you talk about assessment and monitoring – without that, I’d probably be giving up by now because I’d think I wasn’t good enough. But comparing my activities throughout the year only motivates me 🙂

    March 8, 2018
    • Hi Helen, I agree that being able to monitor your progress serves as a motivational tool. I think you should be proud of your progress. Thanks for sharing your story, Robert

      March 8, 2018
  6. Odimdavid said:

    Assessing one’s fitness level is a must if you want to start a fitness program. Only an inexperienced trainer will not ask you to do so. Many persons have had to be hospitalized because they did not understand the needs and weaknesses in their body.

    March 8, 2018
    • Hi Olimdavid, I agree completely. Assess your fitness level and start working out slowly and gradually increasing as you become stronger. Thanks for joining in, Robert

      March 8, 2018
  7. Clinton Sitienei said:

    i have seen so many people try to lose weight, but they didnt. I guess this is the reason why. they never had a step to step plan on how to do it. This is really good.

    March 8, 2018
    • Hi Clinton, making a fitness workout plan is essential to being successful. You’ll be able to hold yourself accountable if you have a plan. Thanks for sharing, Robert

      March 8, 2018
  8. David Mureithi said:

    One of the mistakes people make is to progress faster than they can handle. Starting slow and as you said, ” progressing slowly” is the right protocol.

    March 8, 2018
    • Hi David, slow and steady progress is the best way to proceed. Thanks for sharing, Robert

      March 8, 2018
  9. carrie said:

    I’ve been planning on doing my fitness program, however I always failed to do so. Thank you for this, I will be able to do that now.

    March 8, 2018
    • Hi Carrie, I’m glad this was helpful for you. Come back and give us an update on how it’s working out for you. Thanks for sharing, Robert

      March 8, 2018
  10. Kevin Jonson said:

    Varying your exercises will prevent injury. Moreover, it will also impact a wider range of muscles through variety in movement which will increase overall fitness better.

    March 8, 2018
    • Hello Kevin, thanks for your input. I agree it’s the best way to prevent injury. Thanks for sharing, Robert

      March 8, 2018

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