Benefits of exercise The beginner's guide to getting active June 02 2015
Kate Southam Kate Southam Journalist

Busy work and home lives mean our exercise regimes can often fall by the wayside. Here are some tips to help you get started again.

It’s best to keep fitness for beginners simple. You can get active and begin a lasting exercise habit at any age by choosing activities you enjoy, and starting slowly..

Gradually build up your fitness

For a beginner workout, you can start off with two sessions of just 30 minutes each week and then gradually build up to five 30 minutes sessions a week. At first, your goal should focus on just being active. If you go hard at the start you risk injuring yourself and also not being able to maintain your pace. 

It’s also a good idea to keep things interesting by doing a variety of activities so you don’t get bored. If you are motivated by fun, it will be much easier to get active on a consistent basis. 

Here are four exercises that are great for fitness for beginners.

Walking

If you’re looking for a simple way to be more physically active, walking is a great place to start. Walking is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get active. It’s great for heart health and helping you to manage stress and your weight. You can also make it a social affair by walking with your friend or partner.   

Personal trainer Craig Bone offers advice about using walking as a beginner workout: “Go for a brisk walk to get your heart rate up... You’ll know if your heart rate is up if you get a bit out of breath but can still talk.

“Try and walk up to 10,000 steps or more a day. Challenge yourself by introducing hills, or improving on the time you take to walk a particular route,” Bone suggests. 

To get started you will need a good pair of walking shoes, sunscreen, hat and a water bottle. If you love gadgets, a fitness device or a pedometer can also be a useful tool to help you track how many steps you have taken each day. 

Swimming

Swimming is another great beginner workout option as its low impact, so it lessens the stress on your muscles and joints, but it can also help you build your stamina. Why is swimming a good choice for people who want to be physically active? It requires you to use your whole body, rather than just your legs. 
 
“Together with a healthy balanced diet, swimming can help you maintain a healthy weight as well as benefiting your overall health,” says Bone.
 
“Don’t go too hard, too quickly. Swim a lap, have a little rest if necessary, swim another lap and build up.”
 
To get started you’ll need a swimming costume, goggles and perhaps a swimming cap, and the location of your nearest aquatic centre. 
 
Woman swimming in pool

Cycling

Cycling is another option that improves circulation, fitness and joint mobility. Since most people know how to ride a bike, it’s a good choice for those who want to get active. In addition to being active, cyclists get to enjoy the outdoors. 

“Getting out in nature can also make exercise more enjoyable and social. You can vary your routine by riding to places you wouldn’t normally visit and by cycling over flats, up hills and at intervals of speed,” says Bone.

 To get started you will need a bike and helmet.

Group training

Sometimes, a little outside help can inspire you to get active. Working out with a personal trainer can help you gain knowledge as well as help you manage your weight, improve your fitness, and build strength, joint mobility and lean muscle. When it comes to fitness for beginners, a trainer can set you off on the right path. 
 
“Technique is very important, as the last thing you want to do when you’re starting a new exercise habit is to get injured.”
 
Bone advises starting your own group of no more than six with friends or family with similar goals and fitness levels. This way, you can start with a beginner workout and all be at the same (or similar) level, so each group member gets something out of it. 

No matter how you decide to get active, if you are starting a new exercise regime, or you haven’t exercised in a while, talk to your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to do so, especially if you have a medical condition or injury.

“Don’t forget to listen to your body about how fast and hard to go – take it easy and build up slowly,” Bone says.

 
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Kate Southam Kate Southam Journalist Kate is a journalist and communications consultant.