The most important factor in a successful fitness exercise program is persistence. Many novice exercisers make the mistake of setting their goals too high, only to burn out before they really accomplish anything. A fitness exercise program is not so much a training regimen as it is a lifestyle change. Make fitness part of your daily life and you will see results.
Get a checkup. If you have been living a sedentary lifestyle, it's important to check with your doctor before you start working out.
Take stock of your time resources and the fitness activities available to you. Think about which days you have available and how much time you can devote to exercise on those days. Find out what exercise classes are offered where you live or if there are conveniently located gyms that you can join. Maybe you're more interested in team activities, such as a pickup basketball league. If you prefer being outdoors, see if there are bike-friendly areas or bike trails nearby.
Set aside time for your exercise program. At a minimum, you should have 30 to 40 minutes three times a week to do a basic aerobic workout. If you want to lift weights on top of that, you can schedule your strength training on off-days or just set aside longer blocks of time on the days you are already doing cardiovascular exercises.
Get the right clothes. You don't need expensive exercise clothes, just a simple pair of gym shoes and an outfit you can move in. Apparel that is comfortable and loose-fitting or flexible will work.
Plan out your routine for each day. For your cardiovascular workout, you should stretch for two to five minutes at the beginning and end of your routine. After your beginning stretch, take five minutes to warm up, starting slow and building your activity up to full intensity. At full intensity, you should be exercising vigorously enough to still be able to talk, but not to sing. Spend the last few minutes of your workout cooling down by gradually slowing your exercise.
Vary and balance your exercises. For your cardio, you can alternate walking or jogging with biking, dancing, or some other activity you enjoy. For your strength-building exercises, be sure to exercise both your legs and arms and to put equal emphasis on opposing muscle groups. For example, if you exercise your biceps, you should also exercise your triceps.
Keep track of your exercise, and try to improve a bit each time. If you are jogging, for example, try to go a little faster or exercise for a few minutes longer. If you are lifting weights, add a bit of weight or an extra repetition.
Get motivated. Take along a digital music player with upbeat tunes on it. Exercise with a friend and get fit together. Energetic music and a workout buddy are two of the best motivating factors.
Tips & Warnings
Some people may set goals and give themselves rewards, but this approach may not be for everyone. If it works for you, feel free to set benchmarks and reward yourself when you pass them.