5 Great Ways to Jump-Start a Workout Routine

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Maybe you took a good hard look in a full-length mirror. Maybe your doctor just told you that your couch-potato lifestyle is causing some serious health problems. Either way, it’s time to come up with a plan to get fit and healthy. But don’t just come up with a workout plan and hope to meet your goals. Be proactive and you may even exceed them.

5 Envision Your Reward

Picture the spa treatment, pedicure or dream outfit that you’ll treat yourself to when you reach a goal. The visual cues will keep you motivated to lose weight, increase reps in the weight room or just go for a walk. Pool resources with your exercise partners to celebrate with a larger purchase, such as concert tickets or a weekend getaway. The light at the end of the tunnel will help you stay focused on your workout success.

4 Recruit a Partner

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Choose a workout companion for support and inspiration. Join a spinning class or start a walking group with a friend. Being part of a group with a common goal can keep you moving forward. A partner can help when you experience setbacks or reach a plateau. Workout buddies also can give you fresh ideas for adding variety to your routines so that you don’t get bored.

3 Find Your Time, Space and Place

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Plan how, when and where you will exercise, so you can meet your minimum exercise expectations. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise every week. It also recommends muscle-strengthening exercises involving all major muscle groups two or more days per week. Exercise at 10-minute intervals if your schedule is hectic. If you can’t afford a gym membership or get away to a local track, think creatively about how to incorporate movement throughout your day. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and park farther away from destinations than you would normally would. For at-home workouts, invest in a treadmill or stationary bike. If your job requires you to be seated, stand up and stretch every 90 minutes. Do calf stretches and ankle rotations while sitting at your desk.

2 Talk to Your Doctor

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Sit down with your doctor and map out your diet and exercise plans based on your current health and your health history. Determine what heart rate and blood pressure ranges are safe for you. Exercise increases your heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate. It also causes you to sweat. Illness and medications affect how your body responds to exercise stress. For example, exercise can lead to dehydration if you take diuretic medications. Your doctor can help you launch a healthy workout plan, and guide you on nutritional choices, too.

1 Find Out How Fit You Are

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Determine your current fitness level before launching into a workout program. Having too much body fat puts you at increased risk for diseases such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, arthritis and kidney disease. Your body mass index, or BMI, tells you how fit you are by revealing how much fat is in your body. To determine your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 703, then divide that number by your height in inches. Divide that result by your height in inches again. The National Institutes of Health says that a healthy BMI should be no higher than 24.5. If your BMI is greater than 30, you are considered to be obese. A BMI greater than 40 means extreme obesity.

Verneda Lights has been writing and editing articles about art, science, health, business, history and religion since 1970. Her work has appeared in "Essence," "Working Women Stories & Poems" and "National Geographic." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Bryn Mawr College, a medical degree from University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and a Master of Business Administration from Strayer University.

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