If fitness is a first for you, here are 5 expert tips on how to get started
If you're determined to make 2018 the year you start a fitness plan then you might feel a mixture of motivation, but also uncertainty of where to start. Health professionals all agree that exercise can bring with it a wealth of benefits for both body and mind, but it's also important to find an exercise regime that works for you so you enjoy it -- and stick to it.
Here we round up expert tips from the American Heart Association on how best to get started with your new resolution so you can enjoy not only a healthier 2018 but also a healthier lifestyle long-term.
1. Pace yourself
If you're feeling full of enthusiasm that's great, but remember to go "slow and easy" at first, says exercise physiologist Dr. Cris Slentz, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center. Also remember that it will also take time to get where you want to be, especially if this is the first time you've exercised.
Dr. Slentz recommends starting with short 15- to 20-minute sessions of physical activity to get the process going, and gradually as you get fitter you can up the intensity and duration of your workouts.
2. Remember the big picture
If you're starting a fitness plan for the first time ever, it's also worth thinking about making diet changes along with it. Scientific studies have shown that only mild or modest weight loss is achieved through exercise, with Slentz adding that careful attention to diet is also necessary to lose weight.
Also remember that you have more to gain from exercising than just dropping extra pounds. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming, can also improve heart, bone and vascular health, reduce the risk of diabetes, reduce the risk of certain cancers, reduce stress, and improve brain health.
3. Spend carefully on exercise plans and gear
As well as starting slowly with your fitness plan remember to also start slowly with your fitness expenditures -- exercise doesn't have to be expensive.
There are plenty of free YouTube workouts that can be done with just a mat, or think about investing your money in an affordable gym membership that will offer a wide variety of cardiovascular and weight machines.
it can also be tempting to buy new clothes and accessories, but to get started all you really need to invest in is a good pair of athletic shoes for safety and support, and if you're a woman also a good sports bra.
4. Mix it up
Variety when exercising helps you to reap even more rewards and to stay interested. Resistance training using weights or resistance bands improves muscle strength and contributes to lean body mass, which is important as people grow older, while high-intensity interval training or modified interval training increases cardiovascular fitness.
5. Don't go it alone
If you're new to exercise it can be more fun and more motivating to enlist a friend to start with you, or trying group fitness classes at the gym or a community center. Community walks, charity fundraisers, and group hikes or bike rides can also turn fitness into a social outing.