Good for you! You’ve decided it’s time to get off that couch and start an exercise program. The most important thing you can do to ensure your success is find an activity that works for you.


    Good for you! You’ve decided it’s time to get off that couch and start an exercise program. The most important thing you can do to ensure your success is find an activity that works for you. One of the biggest mistakes people starting a fitness routine will make is to dive in head first without any regard to a few simple questions:  Why am I doing this? What are my goals? What do I really enjoy doing? Too much, too soon, of the wrong thing and you will find yourself back on that couch. So to get off to a good start give some thought to the following.
    Why are you starting an exercise program? Some people are motivated by the need to lose weight or a health concern such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes (always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program). Others are looking to become more active because they know it will give them a sense of well-being, while some simply want to get out and meet people. There are many reasons to start exercising. Think about your own motivation. This is the first step to deciding what type of exercise will be right for you.
    You also need to consider your goals. How do you select an exercise without knowing what it is you want to accomplish? Many people find that working with a fitness professional is helpful in identifying goals and developing an exercise program that works best for them. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds and your neighbor’s goal is to enter a Strong Man competition, it goes without saying your individual exercise programs are going to look very different! For you, a brisk walk, some light strength training and cycling or swimming may be in order while the guy next door is perfecting his Olympic lifts.  Never select an exercise activity based solely on what someone else is doing. Just because they are doing it, doesn’t mean you should too. To be successful, exercise should be tailored to your personal goals.
    Lastly, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing chances are you are not going to keep it up. This point is critical. Why subject yourself to 60 minutes of isolation on a treadmill if you truly enjoy spending time with people? Perhaps you would be better suited to a group exercise class such as cardio dance or step aerobics rather than that treadmill. Group exercise extends beyond aerobics as well. If your goal is to develop strength and muscle tone, yet hours on end in the weight room is not your idea of fun, check out classes such as Body Pump or TRX that combine cardio and strength training in a high energy group format.
    The key to sticking with an exercise program is choosing activities you enjoy. Be creative! There are a multitude of exercise options available so there is absolutely no reason why you should not have fun while getting fit.
    Lori Graham is a NFPT Certified personal trainer at the Bear-Glasgow Family YMCA.