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National Fitness Month: How to Get Fit for Beginners

By Genevieve Cunningham

National Fitness Month: How to Get Fit for Beginners

Getting fit sometimes seems like a magical unicorn. We all want to see it, but it feels impossible. Good fitness is for those people over there, not for everyday people stuck in the grind.

Fortunately, fitness does not have to be elusive. We can’t wish it here instantly, can’t take a magic pill, can’t wait for it to show up on our doorstep. But we can work for it.

Even if you’ve never exercised a day in your life, getting fit is possible. To get closer to your goal of better health and top-notch fitness, it’s best to start at the beginning.

The Fitness Basics

If you're a true beginner -- or really at any fitness level -- the first thing you need to understand is the basics. The fitness world can be overwhelming. Don't get lost in all of the options; instead, stick to these four most basic components of physical fitness.

Cardiovascular endurance - Also called aerobic fitness, your cardio fitness determines how well your heart and lungs can supply the oxygen your body needs as you exercise. The more you improve your cardio, the more you’ll improve things such as heart rate, blood pressure, and stamina. Cardio exercises are usually the first thing we think of when we begin exercise. It includes exercises like walking and running, jumping rope, dancing, swimming, and more.

Muscle strength - Muscle strength often gets overlooked. We focus on the elimination of fat instead of the development of muscle. Strength training quite obviously makes us stronger, but it also builds healthier bones, lowers the risk of disease, and speeds up metabolism.

Flexibility - This is probably the most forgotten component of all. When we’re kids, flexibility comes naturally. As we get older, our flexibility wanes unless we consistently work on it. When we make flexibility a priority, it can ease pain, improve joint health, lower the risk of injury, and improve performance.

Consistency - Perhaps the most important part of fitness is simply to be consistent. We all want results right now, but that’s not going to happen. We must be willing to stick with the process long-term. Aim for 30 minutes per day at least four days a week. Not an hour every day. Not twice a day. Just 30 minutes. This consistency will help you build better health that will be more likely to last.

If you’re really unsure about how to start exercising, these are great places to begin. If you focus on building cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility, and you stick to a plan, you'll be off to a great start.

Common Obstacles to Exercise

Even though we all know that good health and fitness is the way to go, we often find multiple obstacles in the way. The hardest part is that many of these obstacles are valid. Do we exaggerate them? Very likely, but the obstacles are still real, and they often make finding fitness time a particularly tough challenge. Some of the most common obstacles include the following.

  • Physical constraints - Sometimes we don’t work out because of restrictions within our own bodies. Anything that causes pain or immobility can make fitness seem like a truly impossible idea.
  • Time - Americans are busy people. We like to cram our schedules to the brim. We like to overextend ourselves. And because we’re constantly on the clock for one thing or another, fitness time often gets pushed aside.
  • Money - Financial strain can most certainly get in the way of fitness. If you feel as though you can’t afford a gym or a trainer or equipment, you’ll skip the task altogether.

You may have more or fewer obstacles in your own life. Or maybe you recognize yourself in these excuses. No matter what is getting in your way, it’s possible to find a way around the problem so that you can ultimately meet your goals.

The Best Way for Obese People to Begin Exercise Programs

The most common physical constraints to fitness are injury and obesity. If injury is your issue, all you can do is wait it out. You’ll need rest. You’ll need time. You’ll need treatment. Once the waiting period is over, you can jump back in, albeit very slowly. After injury, your exercise program may require some modifications, and that’s OK. Slow and steady wins the race -- and potentially prevents injury from reoccuring.

Obesity is a big problem in America. A little more than 40 percent of the adult population is considered obese. This affects far more than appearance; it affects everything about health and wellness. For exercise, obesity creates complications with movement, stamina, and ability. There’s also the issue of self-confidence, as many people who suffer from obesity are nervous or afraid of hitting the gym. If you fall into this category, don’t lose hope. There are so many ways to make the beginning phase of exercise much easier.

  • Opt for low-impact - Low-impact exercises, like walking or swimming, can make it easier to begin working out. These will cause less strain and pain on the body, most especially on the joints.
  • Do what you can - If you can’t manage 30 minutes per day, don’t. Exercise for 10 minutes or even 5 minutes. Any time spent exercising is better than time spent on the couch. Don’t focus on what you can’t do, but instead, focus on what you can.
  • Do not focus on weight loss - It’s perfectly normal to work out for weight loss, whether you suffer from obesity or not. To keep yourself motivated, don’t start with this goal in mind. Start with the goal of movement, better sleep, more flexibility. Anything other than the scale.
  • Ask for help - Doctors and trainers are there for guidance and assistance. Use them.
  • Start at home - If you don’t have the confidence to hit the gym, start at home. There are so many ways to get moving without ever leaving your house. Start there, and don’t stress over the money or confidence needed for a gym membership.

What is the Most Important Piece of Home Exercise Equipment?

Before you start working out at home, you may panic about whether you have the proper equipment. The good news is that you don’t need much equipment to get started. Some low-cost options that can be found in many home gyms include:

  • Resistance bands
  • Jump rope
  • Good sneakers
  • Internet for videos and instruction

If you have the funds, you can opt for more expensive equipment such as a stationary bike, heavy weights, or a treadmill. But if you have the funds for one high quality piece of equipment, consider this: adjustable dumbbells. This will allow you to lift, add weight as you get stronger, and add a little extra challenge to basic cardio. It’s an incredibly effective option that can easily be kept in your gym, backyard, or spare bedroom.

Whether you choose the gym, an at-home workout space, online videos, or your own personal challenge, improving your fitness will go a long way in your overall health and the way you feel about yourself and life as a whole.

May is National Fitness Month. Why not start now and make May the month that your life changes for the better? Good fitness is not a unicorn that disappears the closer we get. The harder and more consistently you work, the more you become the unicorn -- confident, strong, and living your most magical life.

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