HOW TO START A NEW EXERCISE PROGRAM

We all know that exercise is good for us, but often the hardest part can be knowing how to start. Starting a new exercise program involves change! Identifying where you sit within the 5 stages of change can help you recognize what you can do to get yourself started with a healthy, regular exercise routine.


5 STAGES OF CHANGE

Stage 1 – Precontemplation

This is before you have even started to think about exercise, you don’t acknowledge that it’s something you should be doing and you’re ready to defend your current lifestyle - you don’t think its necessary to make a change. If you’re reading this, you likely aren’t in this stage as you’re already educating yourself, which leads us to stage 2…


Stage 2 – Contemplation

Here you’re starting learn about the benefits of exercise, and how exercise can help you. This stage is mostly about education and increasing the number of reasons to start exercising and decreasing the barriers that could be stopping you from participating in exercise. However, you haven’t made any commitment to take action yet…



Stage 3 – Preparation

This stage is where our tips for starting a new exercise program will come in handy. It is all about starting to make plans to exercise and finding what will work for you. Here you intend to start exercising within the next month.


Stage 4 – Action

This is where you start to engage in exercise – you change your habits, get your referral, speak to an exercise physiologist or start independently.


Stage 5 – Maintenance

This stage is really important to ensure you stay consistent and see changes. You incorporate strategies to prevent reverting to your old habits and ensure this is a long-term lifestyle change rather than just a new fad/trend.

Okay so now that you know what stage you’re in what can you do to get started and create a new healthy lifestyle involving regular exercise?


ACTION TO TAKE AT EACH STAGE

Stage 1 - Pre-contemplation

Like I mentioned before, you’re probably not in this stage if you’re reading this article. However, if you know someone else who could be in this stage you can help them to move to the next stage. Do this by raising their self-awareness and trying to assist them in realising the reality of their situation and the benefits of exercise. Maybe even send them this article!


Stage 2 – Contemplation

Start to educate yourself – the Exercise Right Website is a great start for this, otherwise you can chat to your GP or one of our Accredited Exercise Physiologists for more individualised education. From here, start to identify the benefits for exercise as well as any barriers to exercise that are specific to your circumstances. Once you have identified the barriers, we can come up with strategies to overcome them.



Stage 3 – Preparation

Alrighty here come the handy tips to put in place before you launch into action. These will help to ensure success in your decision to make exercise a bigger part of your daily life.


1. PLAN – plan out your week, ensuring you make time for exercise. You need to make sure that at the end of the day you have no excuse that you’ve run out of time. Ways to create more time include get up earlier, prepare your breakfast and lunches the night before and set out what you need in the morning to make it quick and easy to get out the door – no excuses!


2. Find a mode of exercise that is enjoyable – exercise doesn’t always have to be in a gym lifting weights, it can be as simple as going for a walk, a swim, a bike ride or it could look like pilates, chair yoga or tai chi. Or maybe you do enjoy lifting weights but need to find the right environment – look for group gyms, or a big gym that encourages you to work hard, or a small inclusive gym where you won’t feel intimidated – everyone is different and what works for you wont always work for the person next to you. It could even be going down to the park and kicking a footy with your kids or friends, it could be surfing, it could be skiing or snowboarding or it could be social sport like tennis.


3. Set a goal and find your why – its hard to wake up in the morning when you haven’t identified the real reason behind why you want to exercise, or what goal you’re working towards. Its important to identify a realistic and measurable goal that you can work towards to keep you motivated, consistent and on track. Read our article on how to set SMART goals.



Stage 4 – Action

So its time to start introducing exercise into your routine! If you don’t know where to start, or need some guidance with specific health concerns, book in for an initial consult with your local exercise physiologist. They can help you through all 5 stages of change and are there to help you create and to start actioning a new exercise routine.


Whether or not you’re starting exercise under the guidance of an exercise physiologist, it is important to start small and progress slowly. It’s always easier to work your way up towards your goals rather than jump in a million miles an hour and then burn out 3 weeks later, which often leads to injury! We recommend you start with something small and achievable and slowly increase the duration, frequency, complexity, intensity and/or volume every week to fortnight.



Stage 5 – Maintenance

Now that you’ve started it’s important to stay consistent and make sure this is a permanent habit. A good way to do this is keep an exercise diary/log you can look back on in a few weeks time when you feel like giving up. This will show you how much effort you’ve put in and can also keep you accountable to make sure you’re still working towards your goals.


Another good tip is to have an exercise buddy, someone you can’t let down so easily. Even when you don’t feel like going you won’t want to let them down, plus you get to see a friend!


Lastly, you can see your exercise physiologist periodically to help keep you accountable, they can also give you new tips on how to keep your routine interesting and how to continually progress your exercise to ensure you’re always seeing results.


So, there you go, you have all the tips to get started and stay consistent! If you would like to speak to on of our accredited exercise physiologists we service the Sunshine Coast from Caloundra to Noosa, as well as Gympie and Tin Can Bay. Come along to one of our clinics or make an appointment for a home visit. We specialise in seniors care and NDIS support. Call us on 5456 1599 and get the help you need to implement change!




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