If you want to lose weight, exercise can be a fantastic way to do it! But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start with exercising in order to maximize the results of your weight loss efforts. We’ve got tips on how to get started with exercising and how to stay motivated over the long term when it comes to losing weight, so you can reach your goal weight faster than ever before!
Although exercise is great for losing weight, you should always consult your doctor first. They’ll be able to tell you if you have any physical conditions that could get in the way of a regular exercise routine. They’ll also recommend safe exercises for you and likely provide you with a workout plan for starting out. Make sure to listen to your body, as well: If an exercise hurts too much or doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!
The Right Equipment
No matter what kind of exercise you’re into, be it running, swimming or cycling, you need some equipment. If you’re planning on hitting a local gym to work out, don’t worry you won’t need much. A good pair of sneakers or cross-trainers will get you through most gym routines. You’ll also want to invest in workout clothes that are breathable and allow you to move freely. Moisture-wicking fabrics are best for absorbing sweat and keeping you cool and dry.
If you prefer exercising at home, you may want to invest in some basic cardio equipment like a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical. Also consider getting some free weights or resistance bands to incorporate strength training into your routine. Yoga mats are inexpensive and great to have on hand too. The key is finding the equipment that works for your preferred exercises and fitness level. Shop sales and check second-hand stores to save money.
This is a must for any weight-loss exercise program. They strengthen and tone muscles, increase energy and endurance, improve flexibility, help you sleep better, control your weight and blood pressure and even improve your mood. The best part: You can do them almost anywhere (even at work) on a daily basis. Here are a few examples of strength-training exercises:
- Crunches (sit-ups)
- Bicep curls
Aim to do strength training 2-3 times per week, allowing your muscles to rest and recover on off days. Start with lighter weights and higher reps, eventually increasing the weight amount as you build strength.
Cardiovascular exercise like running, biking, swimming, or using cardio machines at the gym is also key. Cardio gets your heart rate up, burning more calories and fat. Try to get in 150 minutes of moderate cardio or 75 minutes of high intensity cardio per week. Break it up into smaller sessions if needed.
A Step-by-Step Guide
The best way to get started with exercising is by figuring out what kind of exercise you like, and then starting slowly. Start with low-impact exercises, like walking or yoga, so that your body can acclimate and avoid injury. If possible, try breaking up your routine into chunks of time for example, park farther away from work when you commute each day so that you have time for a short walk between points A and B.
Here are some more tips for beginning an exercise routine:
- If you’re new to working out, start with just 10-15 minutes a day, 3 days a week. Gradually increase the duration and frequency.
- Focus on different muscle groups each session. For example, do arms and abs one day, then legs the next time.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout to stay hydrated.
- Warm up with 5-10 minutes of light activity like walking before your main workout to prep your muscles. Finish with a cooldown too.
- Listen to music or watch TV while exercising to prevent boredom.
- Buy new workout clothes and shoes to get motivated. Having proper footwear is also important to prevent injury.
- Record your workouts in a journal or app to track progress.
- Stretch after each workout to increase flexibility. This helps prevent next-day soreness too.
- Rest at least one day between strength sessions to allow muscles to recover.
- Shake up your routine by trying new equipment, classes, videos or exercises every couple weeks. Variety will keep you from getting bored.
Keeping Track of Your Progress
Start by doing a quick assessment of your current physical fitness level. Ideally, you’ll want to visit a doctor or healthcare professional first before beginning any exercise program, but if that’s not an option, there are other ways you can get a baseline on where you stand. Here are a few options:
- Calculate your BMI (body mass index). This will give you an idea if you’re in the healthy weight range or need to lose weight.
- Do flexibility tests like sit-and-reach or shoulder stretches to see how limber you are.
- Test muscular strength with pushups, curl-ups or planks. See how many you can do.
- Time yourself walking or jogging 1 mile. This checks cardiovascular endurance.
- Take body measurements with a tape measure around your waist, hips, chest, arms, etc.
- Weigh yourself and take progress pics to compare over time.
You can also consider working with an athletic trainer or a personal trainer who can offer suggestions and help keep you motivated. They may have you do more in-depth fitness assessments as well. No matter how you choose to track progress, doing it consistently is key. Weigh and measure yourself weekly or monthly and record cardio times to see tangible results. Seeing improvement will keep you dedicated to exercising!
How often should I exercise to lose weight?
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio per week, along with strength training 2-3 times per week. Break this up however fits your schedule, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day. Consistency is key.
What if I hate running or going to the gym?
Find exercises you actually enjoy! Swim, dance, play sports, try fitness classes, go on YouTube workout videos, take the dog for a walk, etc. Any activity that gets your heart rate up works.
Will I burn more fat with HIIT workouts?
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) alternates short bursts of intense exercise with recovery periods. This can burn more fat than steady cardio in less time, but longer moderate cardio works too. Mix up both.
How hard should I workout as a beginner?
As a general rule, you should be able to carry on a conversation during moderate exercise. Harder workouts may require shorter talk breaks. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it. Progress gradually.
Can I build muscle and lose fat simultaneously?
It is possible, especially for beginners! Use a mix of cardio and strength training focused on progressive overload (slowly increasing weight/intensity). Get enough protein and sleep to support muscle growth while creating a calorie deficit.
Getting started with an exercise routine takes dedication, but it so worth it for your health and to see results on the scale. Find activities you enjoy, recruit a buddy to join you for motivation, and track your progress as you work toward your weight loss goals. Consistency is key, so exercise several times per week and make it a habit. You’ve got this!