GET FIT TN: It's time to GET FIT Tennessee!

Starting a Fitness Program

Do you have a goal to get active and start a fitness routine, but aren’t sure how to begin? We can help! You can use these tips and suggestions to start a fitness program that works for you.

Is it safe?

Swimmers iin a poolYou may be wondering, “Is it safe for me to exercise?” For most people the answer is, “Yes!” Be sure to check with your health care provider if you:

  • Are inactive and over 40 years old;
  • Have any medical problems;
  • Are over 40 and want to plan a relatively vigorous exercise program.

If your health care provider clears you for physical activity, he or she can also give you ideas of different types of activity that would be best for you. Be sure to choose activities that are safe, fun, build endurance and involve repetitive motion using the arms and legs.

Why should I start a fitness program?

Weight rack

Being active and involved in physical activity makes you feel better, improves your mood, gives you more energy and can help you lose weight. It can help prevent and delay diseases and health conditions and help you enjoy your life.

How much exercise do I need?

  • Moderate activity - 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week
  • Vigorous activity - 20 minutes per day, 3 days per week

Forms of Exercise

There are three different forms of exercise you may find yourself doing. Each of them is significant and can help you enhance and balance your fitness program.

  • Structured - Intentional physical activity
  • Leisure time pursuits - Activity performed at home or during leisure time may include mowing the lawn, working in the garden, walking the dog, washing the car, cleaning the house, etc. This should last between 2-3 hours.
  • Occupational - This occurs while at work and may include parking further away from the entrance and walking, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, using 10-15 minutes of lunch time to take a walk, etc.

Getting Started:

Cardiovascular:

Begin with moderate-intensity exercises:

  • Couple joggingParticipate in cardio exercise at least 150 minutes every week.
  • Heart rate should be noticeably accelerated, but it should still be easy to carry on a conversation at this intensity level.
  • Try exercising in 10 minute intervals to achieve a 30 minute minimum.
  • Start slow and gradually increase frequency, duration and intensity level.
  • Examples of moderate-intensity exercises include walking briskly, swimming, bicycling, dancing, gardening, aerobics, golf and hiking.

Transition to vigorous-intensity exercises:

  • Perform cardio exercise with intensity level comparable to jogging.
  • Do at least 75 minutes every week.
  • Experience substantial increase in heart rate and rapid breathing.
  • Should be relatively difficult to carry on a conversation at this intensity level.
  • Examples of vigorous-intensity exercises include jogging, running, bicycling uphill, stair climbing, elliptical trainer, rock climbing, most competitive sports and skiing.

Feel free to combine moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity to meet the requirements of your fitness program. For example, if you want to walk briskly for 30 minutes two times every week and then jog for 20 minutes the other two days, you would still be meeting the recommendations.

Muscular Strength:

10lb weight
  • Perform a minimum of 6 to 10 separate exercises that train the major muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, arms, abdomen, hips, legs).
  • Do 2 sets of each exercise. A set is a group of 10-12 repetitions (the number of times you perform exercise) without stopping.
  • Muscular strength exercises should be performed 2 days each week.

Flexibility Training:

People stretching
  • Perform flexibility exercises that stretch the major muscle groups (chest, shoulders, back, arms, abdomen, hips, legs).
  • Do these at least 2-3 days each week.
  • Stretch to a position of mild discomfort and hold for 10-30 seconds.
  • Do not bounce while stretching.
  • Do 3-4 repetitions for each exercise.

How do I split them up?

If you work out for 1 hour, you should spend between 70-80 percent of your time focusing on cardio activities, 10 percent focusing on muscular strength activities, and 10 percent focusing on flexibility activities.

Suggested 6 Week Exercise Plan

Week Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
1 Walk/Cardio for 20-30 min Stretch Rest Walk/Cardio for 20-30 min Stretch Rest Walk/Cardio for 20-30 min Stretch Rest Rest
2 Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Rest Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Rest Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Rest Rest
3 Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Rest Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Rest Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Walk/Cardio for 30-40 min Stretch Rest
4 Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Rest Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Rest Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Walk/Cardio for 30-40 min Stretch Rest
5 Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Rest Walk/Cardio for 30-35 min Stretch Rest Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Walk/Cardio for 30-45 min Stretch Rest
6 Walk/Cardio for 30 min Stretch Strength Training Walk/Cardio for 30-35 min Stretch Strength Training Walk/Cardio for 30 min OR Rest Walk/Cardio for 30-45 min Stretch Rest

*After week 6, follow the same schedule, but try to build your endurance and challenge yourself to try new activities.

Now that you know how to create your own fitness program, be sure to register for the free Health and Fitness Tracker to help you stay on track!