Gradual Workout Plan

Ease into a workout plan that works for you.
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While the idea of working out to stay strong and healthy sounds great, the logistics of starting and maintaining a regular fitness regimen can feel overwhelming. Maybe you've never stepped foot into a gym or you start sweating just thinking about bouncing around in a hip-hop aerobics class. Before you completely give up on yourself, remember that you can ease into a workout plan just like you eased back into your favorite jeans after losing 5 pounds. See your doctor for a complete physical exam, then get started on a path to a healthier you.

Set Goals

    Fitness goals give you specific objectives to work toward, keeping you focused and motivated. Rather than setting ambiguous goals such as "get healthy" or "be active," set concrete and measurable goals. Identify exactly what you want to accomplish. If you want to lose weight, set a number and a date to reach it by, keeping in mind that goals also need to be realistic. If you want to ease back into fitness, determine how much physical fitness time you will devote each day. Take it one day at a time as you gradually implement your workout plan.

Create a Routine

    Create a routine that works for you by scheduling time to work out just as you would schedule a dental appointment. Take it slow at first; the Mayo Clinic advises adults to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity — or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity — a week. Adults also need two or more days of strength training a week. Work toward the recommended minutes of activity by choosing activities that you enjoy and getting physically active at least 15 minutes each day. Gradually add more minutes as you gain endurance, strength and confidence.

Assess Your Progress

    Challenge yourself by assessing your goals about once a week. Continue to raise the bar a little bit every time you reach a goal. For example, if you reached your goal of walking three miles a day, set a goal to run at least one of those miles the following week. Pick one day a week where you add five repetitions to each exercise in your strength-training routine. Monitor your goals regularly and change them to add more intensity or longevity to your workout routine.

Stick to It

    The hardest part about a workout program can be sticking with it longer than the life of your cute new spandex. Avoid making excuses for yourself about why you can't work out. Instead, just do it. Enlist a workout buddy to hold you accountable or reward yourself for reaching goals with a bubble bath, a new sweater or a sweet treat. Make your goals visible by posting them in various rooms of your home, or keep a workout journal to record your stats every day after you work out. When you feel like skipping a workout or giving up entirely, remind yourself why you wanted to begin working out in the first place. Dwell on the positive, stay focused and go!

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