Exercising for the inexperienced

By Managing Editor: Amber Lee Carnahanimages

When it comes to exercising, there is always something else that takes priorities. You have too much homework to do, you don’t have enough time, you’re too tired. Daily life is full of hurdles that makes it difficult to set aside time for exercising, and merely thinking of working out may seem a bit daunting. However, the most difficult hurdle is easing into the exercise world for the first time. With a limited knowledge of the proper way to ‘work-out,’ exercising can seem a little scary. But hopefully with a little time and effort, the mythical world of fitness won’t seem as foreboding.

Start slow. 

There are an unlimited amount of reasons to start exercising. If sports are your interest, then hours spent exercising and getting in shape will be in your future. Maybe you’ve heard from your fitness-fanatic friends that working-out is the bee’s knees, or maybe you just want to be able to fit well in your prom dress or tux. Regardless of the reason, there may be a sense of urgency to get fit fast, regardless of the consequences that arise. When exercising for the first time, make sure to take it slow. Don’t expect to do an hour-long calisthenics routine and immediately reap the benefits. In fact, you’d probably only end up injuring yourself, which makes exercising seem much less user-friendly.

WebMD offers some insight for fitness beginners. “Many beginners make the mistake of starting out too aggressively, only to give up when they end up tired, sore, or injured. Some get discouraged because they think an aggressive workout will produce instant results.”

“Don’t expect any results for a long time,” says Cassie Stuart, a junior at Howell High School. “People will give you numbers like 30 days, one month, 16 weeks, and so on, but there is no exact date where you’ll wake up and be a Victoria’s Secret Model, so you have to learn to appreciate the small stuff you see, like how you can do a few more sit ups than before, or run a little longer, or you don’t drag your feet as much when doing your workout. Those are the results that mean you’re getting stuff done.”

Choose activities you enjoy.

 It may seem surprising, but working-out can be fun – as long as you let it be. If you force yourself to do agonizing exercises that make you want to curl over and die, you’re doing it wrong. Getting fit doesn’t require you to throw away everything you love and cherish. On the contrary, working your interests into your exercises will help you to stay on task, engaged, and entertained. Exercising allows you to make your own rules, so be creative. Turn on your favorite music and jam. In case you were unaware, dancing is an exercise. Incorporating your passions into your work-out will benefit you in the long-run, and soon you’ll be looking forward to taking a break from reality and engaging in some relaxing cardio.

Do it right. 

This advice may seem a bit daunting, but it’s important you research the exercises you are doing. If you’re not ready to tackle the push-up, then don’t. Doing an exercise incorrectly increases the risk of injuring yourself. By being lazy in your activities, you’ll only be hindering your fitness progress.

Stuart advises, “Remember good form is more important than getting a lot of reps done which basically means to make sure you are holding your body properly while you do certain moves instead of just rushing and getting a lot of the moves done which can hurt you.”

Steve Kamb, the founder of Nerd Fitness which is a website that offers many fun and helpful tips for both advanced and beginning exercisers, emphasizes the importance of proper form. He has written several articles explaining how to execute with proper form various exercises, including push-ups and squats. Keeping proper form allows you to be able to track your progress with consistency as well as avoiding injury.

Warm-up. 

If you already find yourself short on time to exercise, the process of warming up may seem like a waste of time and you might consider skipping it. Don’t. Warm-ups are crucial and shouldn’t be taken lightly, as they stretch your muscles before exercising and limit the possibility of seriously injuring yourself.

Kamb says, “Above all else, the most important thing you can do when working out is warming up properly. Doing a dynamic warm up can help activate your central nervous system, priming your muscles for body for a great workout that produces your best effort.”

Warm-ups don’t have to take up much time. As long as they get your heart pumping and give your muscles an opportunity to stretch, you’re good to go. Examples of warm-ups you could try include a series of jumping jacks, jogging in place, or a couple squats. Stretching after you finish exercising is also advised, and is known as a “cool down” to help your muscles relax and heal after the strain of exercising.

“Always warm up and cool down or else you’ll be in some major pain and your muscles bulk strangely when you get more in shape,” says Stuart.

Eat well.

Results don’t come from working out alone. If someone is exercising for hours each day, but chooses to still eat McDonald’s multiple times a week, they will be trapped in a constant cycle of disappointment. Healthy eating goes hand-in-hand with a healthy work-out routine. While counting every carb you put in your body is a little extreme, you still need to be aware of what food you’re choosing to put on your plate.

“A lot of people think that exercise is the most important part of weight loss or a more healthy lifestyle when in reality, having a clean, mostly green and unprocessed diet with enough hydration is actually eighty percent of changing your lifestyle and losing weight,” says Stuart.

Work-outs don’t have to be feared. Even if you’re a beginner and have never exercised before for even a few minutes, your fitness endeavors don’t have to be halted with an “I don’t know how.” With knowledge comes great responsibility, and greater opportunities. The internet is your friend, and it’s a great resource to help you along your journey towards a healthy tomorrow.