Start Slowly


When you first start your exercise program, you may be tempted to shoot for the stars and get a lot of work done in a short amount of time. While this can sometimes be a great attitude, it is important to start slowly and gradually ease into your new lifestyle.

You have to understand that, in order to be successful, you need to devote almost every aspect of your life towards positive change. If you make the mistake of trying to make all of these changes at the same time, you may become overwhelmed.

You may have to skip your favorite television show to keep an exercise appointment, pass on the cheesecake and make other small changes. There is no reason that you have to make all the changes at the same time.

To be successful, aim to make a very small change in your lifestyle every once in a while. Over time, these small changes will add up to the major change that is necessary for your new lifestyle.

Taking the First Steps

As a general rule, set your workout schedule, decide on your diet and aim to one additional change every time you meet a monthly goal. The small changes that you make when you first begin your program will depend largely on your old lifestyle. Below are a few ideas for your first steps:

  1. When you order a burger, order it without cheese.

  2. When you eat at a restaurant and pick a side dish, order a salad instead of fries.

  3. Use the stairs instead of the elevator at work.

  4. Drink a glass of water before each dinner.

  5. Eat a piece of fruit every day with lunch.

  6. While you wait for the shower to warm up in the morning, do some stretches.

  7. When you go to the movie theatre, buy a water and small popcorn instead of the large combo.

  8. Walk your dog 4 times a week instead of 3.

  9. Spend more time with your children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews.

1st step

The list could go on forever. When you pick your first gradual steps, it helps to pick them to improve some other aspect of your (or other people's) life. You will be surprised at how quickly you find more money in your bank account, better quality relationships and more satisfaction with your life in general. Just to give you an example of how a small step can add up in the long run, let's take a look at one of the above examples a little closer:

Ordering the burger without cheese: If you look at the menu at a restaurant, you will probably notice that little extras (like cheese) often cost more money. This may seem trivial (depending on how many burgers you eat) at perhaps 20 cents.

However, think how many burgers you have eaten during your lifetime. If you eat 200 burgers without cheese, you save about $40. With the average slice of American cheese coming in at 94 calories, 200 burgers without cheese would equal 37,600 less calories.

Using Small Steps in Your Aerobic Training

Transferring small steps in your lifestyle to your aerobic training is easy. Take the same mindset that you have with all of the small changes and figure out some of the changes that you like to make. Below are a few ideas for your first aerobic training steps:

  1. Walk to the corner gas station for your morning coffee instead of driving.

  2. Do only 1 exercise session each week for a month.

  3. Try a new piece of aerobic equipment for 20 minutes every week.

  4. When you go for a walk, go a few houses past your own and then back when returning.

  5. Start the first week by stretching for 10 minutes on 4 days.

  6. For the first week, walk around the block twice on 3 days.

As with the lifestyle changes, the list could go on and on. Start your program by doing something that you know you can do before moving on to something more difficult or time consuming. If you start too vigorously, you may get discouraged and give up before you have made any real changes to your body and life. While some of these starting points may seem like they will not do much good, let's take a look at one to see how valuable it is:

For the first week, walk around the block twice on 3 days: You may be wondering how such a small effort can make any difference. However, by simply walking a very short distance beyond what you would normally walk every day, you are telling your body to prepare to do more. In as short of a time as a week, your body will begin to respond. For people that have difficulty with physical activity, this first week may even be extended into the first month. After you are comfortable with the increased activity, you will begin to extend your walk, jog, run and so on. In a few years, you may find yourself jogging 5 miles a day for 4 days a week and be in the best shape of your life!

Being Confident With Your First Step

The smaller your first step, the more likely you will be to succeed in the long run. No matter how small the first effort is, it is an effort in the right direction. In all actuality, nearly every step you take in your program will be a new beginning from a previous starting point. By starting slowly, you gradually convince your body that the next step is from a point that was how it has always been.

As an example, your first month or aerobic exercise (using an exercise bike) could look like this:

Week 1

  • Monday: 15 minutes of medium intensity.

  • Wednesday: 15 minutes of medium-heavy intensity

Week 2

  • Monday: 20 minutes of heavy intensity

  • Wednesday: 15 minutes of medium intensity

Week 3

  • Monday: 10 minutes of medium intensity

  • Wednesday: 10 minutes of medium intensity

  • Friday: 10 minutes of medium intensity

Week 4

  • Monday: 15 minutes of medium intensity

  • Wednesday: 15 minutes of medium intensity

  • Friday: 10 minutes of medium intensity


By starting with a very small amount of exercise and slowly increasing the rate at which you work out, you prepare your body for a regular program at some point in the near future. If you find that the rate of progression is too rapid, you can try scaling it back again during the next month and trying a different rate.

By starting slowly, the chance that you will make a mistake in the following weeks is greatly reduced. In addition, by starting slowly and gradually increasing your exercise duration, frequency, and intensity, you will be more apt to create an environment where exercise is part of your daily lifestyle.