We get it. Between your 10-hour workdays, your commute and your family and social commitments, you're crunched for time. But when it comes to your health, exercise is non-negotiable -- but it doesn't have to be extended and torturous, either. Below, a few simple tips for starting a new fitness routine from our friends at iVillage:
Pencil It In. Showing up is the most important part of starting a new exercise routine. You’ll
always have an excuse to skip a workout. Make it non-negotiable by putting it in your calendar,
like you would an important meeting, says Clavel Lazarre, certified personal trainer and owner
of the Cobble Hill Fitness Collective in New York City. Even if you’re really dreading it, go anyway.
Tell yourself that you only have to exercise for 15 minutes, says Smith. “Once I get going, I usually
don't even notice the clock. But some days, 15 minutes is just enough, and that's okay, too.”
Start Small and Build Up. The biggest mistake people make when beginning a fitness program
is pushing too hard, and then quitting. For general health, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention recommend at least two and a half hours of aerobic exercise a week plus muscle
strengthening at least twice a week. Aim for 30 to 45 minutes three times a week, and work
your way up. According to Lazarre, a beginner’s program should look like this: 20 minutes on the
treadmill (start out walking and build up to a light jog), plus 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer
or bike, followed by 10 to 15 minutes of weight training. “Doing two types of cardio will help
alleviate boredom and exercise different areas of the body,” he says.
Have Fun With It. Like a healthy diet, working out is not meant to be a short-term project,
explains New York City-based personal trainer, Lacey Stone, founder of Lacey Stone Fitness. To
make it a lifelong endeavor, find something you love. For Stone, that means surrounding yourself
with people you enjoy and listening to great music. “View it as a time to socialize,” she says.
Enlisting a buddy or walking your dog can help take the work out of exercising and make it more
fun. Plus, it’s harder to make excuses when you’re accountable to your friend or Fido.
Step 4: Exercise Your Options. Research shows women who are uncomfortable with their
bodies perform worse when working out beside someone in better shape. That’s why Lazarre
recommends finding a fitness class geared towards people who are at the same fitness level as
you. If you’d like to join the gym but are intimidated, sign up for one personal training session—
or ask the manager if they offer free orientation—to familiarize you with the equipment.
According to Stone, spinning is a great gym class for the uninitiated. “Everyone has ridden a bike
before. It’s easy on the joints. They turn the lights off, so you can be in the back row, go at your
own pace and hide if you want. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.” If you prefer flying solo, begin your fitness
training at home with workout DVDs or walk outdoors.
Step 5: Set Realistic Goals. While losing weight is a good goal, it shouldn’t be your only
motivation to start exercising, says Smith, because it takes a lot longer to see results than you
think. Instead, focus on goals you can achieve every day, like running for a minute longer than
you did yesterday. “I think the scale is something that throws a woman off,” says Stone. “If it’s
important to you, buy a pair of jeans in the size you want to be and use that as a goal.” Just know
that a size six doesn’t guarantee happiness. “Look at your fitness as trying to be the best version
of yourself, and don’t compare yourself to others. If you do the best you can every day, and you
have no regrets, you’ll start to feel good about yourself, and your body will fall into place as
(Courtesy of iVillage)