Cardio Basics: Fitness And Exercise Tips For Beginners

You’ve adjusted your diet, and now you’re trying to get on track toward a cardio routine.  That’s great!  Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind.  It’s widely known that cardiovascular exercise is beneficial for so many reasons: 

  • improves our mood by releasing endorphins into our brains
  • helps us combat heart disease and osteoporosis
  • aids sleep
  • strengthens our lungs and hearts 
  • improves blood circulation.

Not ready to join a gym just yet? It can feel overwhelming at first; a good thing to do is break down exercising into small, digestible steps.  Remember, this is a positive and life-changing decision you are making.  Positive, life-changing decisions are not always easy – they can be difficult and challenging, and require effort.  Getting fit and losing weight is not going to happen overnight.  Here are some things to remember before you get started:

Tip #1: Check In With Your Doctor 

The first thing you should do (if you are overweight and have been sedentary for a long time) is check in with your doctor.  It’s not a bad idea to get a check-up and a clean bill of health so you can start exercising.  Your doctor will have great advice for you in that regard (and he or she will be very happy to know that you are doing it).

Tip #2: Schedule the Time to Take Care of Yourself 

This is a tough one, but it must be done.  Make a deal with yourself that you will, no matter what, implement some kind of activity into your life, at least 3-4 times a week.  Time is always an issue, but the fact is, Americans are now spending an average of 127 hours watching television per month according to Nielsen Media Research. Yet, the average American cites time as a major impediment to getting active.  That kind of inactivity adds up to over 1,520 hours per year of TV watching; we are spending almost as much time on our couches as we are in office chairs!   

Tip #3: Decide Where To Go

Are you a full-time mom? Your exercise opportunities are endless:

  • Schedule a brisk walk in the morning after you drop the kids at school.
  • Walk your dog.
  • Join a fitness class at your local YMCA or community center and report there immediately after dropping off the kids.
  • Stretch and exercise during TV shows or commercials if you have to

Tip #4: Choose the Right Exercises

Low-impact exercises are best to start with, especially if you are overweight.  Walking, a recumbent bike, swimming, and a low-impact group fitness class are some great choices. 

Tip #5: Pick the Right Work Out Attire

If you are nervous about your appearance, you have some options.  Spandex is actually a great material because it is supportive and it prevents chafing.  A loosely fitting workout shirt and shorts over spandex will do the trick.  

The fact is, there is absolutely no legitimate argument against the benefits and practicality of exercise, especially when it comes to weight loss and management. Believe it or not, exercise CAN be fun.  It’s up to you to find something that you enjoy. 

This is not the time to start obsessing over what the scale says.  Focus on one thing at a time and remember, the most efficient way to lose weight and keep it off is to do it slowly.  At a slow and steady pace, losing 1-2 pounds per week and staying active will have a life-long positive health consequences.

Weight training and stretching will eventually become a very important part of your routine, because as you plateau, you’ll find that additional weight loss and toning comes from strength training.  However, first things first: the most important thing you can do is get active 3-4 times a week.


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