We all know that exercising is better for us than not exercising but that doesn’t make getting started any easier. On top of the psychological barriers to starting an exercise program when you’re not used to it, or just plain don’t want to, there may also be physical challenges. Someone who is simply out of shape has their own hurdles to jump but add chronic pain or other health issues to the mix and it can seem like trying to climb Mt. Everest.

Just knowing that exercise is good doesn’t help get us off the couch.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re looking to start an exercise program.

Talk to your doctor

The first thing you should do is speak with your primary care physician or specialist to determine if there are any restrictions you should follow based on your current health. You never want to do something that would exacerbate an existing condition.

Start slowly

Don’t rush right into running marathons. When you’re just getting started you may want to try small, fun things. Walking is an easy, low impact way to get some activity into your daily routine. If you like swimming, hit your local pool. If you like team sports, join a kickball league. Yoga, martial arts, and other group activities usually have beginner’s classes.

Be consistent

Many of us fall into the trap of having to start over again and again. If you start exercising this week but then put it off again for another two weeks, you’ll be starting from scratch all over again. Build in activities that you can easily do every week so you stay on track and begin to see results.

Have fun

You won’t stick to an exercise program if you loathe starting it every day. If you hate hitting the gym and riding the exercise bike, then it won’t be healthy. It may even cause higher stress and anxiety levels that can counter all the good you’re doing. Instead, pick activities that you enjoy. Go for a hike. Ride your bike in your neighborhood. Even gardening can be exercise.

Bring friends

Exercise is even more fun when you’re with groups. Ask a friend to start a beginner’s yoga class with you. Go for walks with your spouse and your dog. Involve several of your friends so you can incorporate more activities into your routine.

Reward yourself

Ice cream sundaes may not be the best reward for working out every day for a week but there are healthier choices. Treat yourself to a day at the spa or reading by the pool. Give yourselves goals to work toward and assign rewards to each step of the process. Makes sure the reward encourages your healthy lifestyle.

If it isn’t something you already do, what three things can you do today to get you up and moving?

Image by LadyDragonflyCC via Flickr

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