How to Start a New Exercise

It took me almost 2 years between being asked to get in the pool, and actually getting into the pool. So when I decided to write this piece about how to start a new exercise, I drew on my personal experience that that starting a new exercise can be intimidating. Then again, just about anything that puts you out of your comfort zone can be intimidating.

Swimming

My wife is a swimmer. Well, she’s actually a tri-athlete, as she runs, bikes, and swims. She became a swimmer at age 19. She’s been in the water ever since.

On the other had, I like to goof around in the water. Swimming nonstop for 50 or so yards has always been good enough for me.

So now I’m over 50, and I’ve absolutely committed to adopting a fitness lifestyle and maintaining fitness for the rest of my life. Are you in? Are you thinking not only about what you can do now to stay fit, but also how you will maintain fitness later in your life, into your 80s, 90s, and beyond? We hope we’ll still able to go to the gym and lift weights, but it’s sure that we’ll be able to get to the pool and go swimming. It’s gentle on our old bones.

So I committed to start swimming, but it’s 30 years since my college swimming class, when I last “swam.”

So I have to start a new exercise. The good news is that the equipment isn’t intimidating – a swimsuit, goggles, and a towel. Check those off the list.

Now comes the hard part. Overcoming mental resistance. It really came down to deciding “just do it.”

And  here’s the important thing: I did it. I’m not a good swimmer. I can easily get back and forth, but my muscles aren’t adapted to swimming, which means that I’m physically able to make it back and forth in the pool, but I don’t have the upper body aerobic fitness to sustain the activity.

woman in pool

So what do we do? Just get in the pool on a regular basis – at least twice per week – and swim. Start small, and expect to get better over time. Accept your limitations, be happy you’re in the pool, and recognize you’ll get better over time. That’s all one can hope for.

couple running

Running

I’ve loved cycling since I was a kid. Cycling provides freedom, dramatically extends the distance you can travel, and enables adventures.

For me, running mostly just sort of hurts. Does running hurt for you too?

Nevertheless, I’d committed to start running. Why? It’s easy: you can run right from your front door. The equipment is simple: shirt, shorts, shoes, and socks. Running doesn’t take long, so running is possible when other exercises may not be. And running gear packs well, so you can take it anywhere.

Get Tips and Tricks to Live Longer, Healthier, and Keep Your Mind Sharp. Sign Up Today!

So here’s how to start a new exercise: running. Pick up some running shoes from a running store, where the staff can look at how you run, evaluate your stride and how your feet fall, in order to recommend shoes that match your running style.

Next, download a free interval timer to your smart phone. Why? While running may initially cause some discomfort, anyone that’s physically capable can run for 30 seconds. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting something new.

Here’s how to start a new exercise: Running.

Phase 1:
Pick 2-3 days per week to run, allowing for at least one day rest between running days.
Warm Up: 5 minutes walking
Activity: Set interval timer for between 2 and 10 sets (whatever you’re comfortable with) 30 seconds running followed by 90 seconds walking.
Cool Down: minimum of 5 minutes of walking.
Total Time: 20-30 minutes

Phase 2
After you’re doing 10 sets running. Do this for 2 weeks.
Keep warm up at 5 minutes walking
Activity: 10 sets running, interval timer set at 35 seconds running followed by 85 seconds walking.
Cool Down: minimum of 5 minutes of walking.
Total Time: 30 minutes

Phase 3 and beyond
Warm Up: 5 minutes walking
Activity: Set interval timer for 10 sets and increase running to 40 seconds, followed by 80 seconds walking.
Cool Down: minimum of 5 minutes of walking.
Total Time: 30 minutes

The trick here is that every 2 weeks, or whatever interval you feel comfortable with, you increase the seconds running and decrease the seconds walking. If you’re feeling comfortable, increase the number of sets you’re doing. Your goal is to get to 20 minutes of continuous running. After you achieve that, add minutes running as your schedule and comfort allow. The bottom line is that using the interval timer is a great way to overcome our resistance to running, and it also allows us to slowly adapt to running, which greatly decreases the likelihood of injuries.

So there’s how to start 2 new exercises. After you’ve gained comfort in those exercises, try a variety of new things.

Keep in mind that the research clearly proves the importance of both aerobic fitness and resistance training.(See Study)  Aerobic and resistance training provide complimentary, not overlapping benefits: resistance training improves higher-level brain functioning such as effective multi-tasking, learning ability, decision-making, attention span and conflict resolution, while aerobic exercise improves memory and is directly linked to neurogenesis, or new brain cell production.

The bottom line is that exercise diversity is best. To promote comprehensive physical ability, functional fitness, not muscle building, should be the focus. Incorporating HIIT is a fantastic way to assist with weight management.

woman with weights

Finally, pay attention to your food, with a diet comprised of fresh whole foods, mostly vegetables and fruits. Sleep well, do what you can to alleviate stress, drink plenty of water, and spend as much time as you can outdoors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *