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Getting started on your fitness journey can be extremely tough. If you’re not used to exercising on a regular basis, getting yourself up from your bed or couch to do physical activity can be extremely daunting. Whether you’re having difficulty starting your exercise routine or following through with it, know that you’re not alone; many people go through similar challenges on the path to fitness, and it’s possible to get past this slump toward a healthier lifestyle. 

The first thing you need to go is do away with any excuses against following your exercise plan. If you hate exercising, find a way to make it fun: walk through the park, give a physical activity a try, ride a bike, or anything else that’ll keep you moving. If you have a busy schedule, you can still find time to get yourself active—not every workout needs to last an hour or longer. Even 5-10 minute spurts of activity can be effective in getting you more active. 

Not every exercise plan has to be intensive. In fact, there are three levels of exercise you can choose from: low, medium, and high. At low-intensity exercise, you can speak easily and sing; at medium-intensity, you can’t sing, but full sentences still come easily. High-intensity workouts make you too breathless to even speak in full sentences. For most people, though, you should aim for a medium-intensity workout—you should be breathing heavier than normal, but not be out of breath. Your body should feel warmer, but not overheated or be sweating profusely. There’s no need to overdo your workout.

When starting to exercise, make sure you do it safely. Exercising can be taxing on the body, especially if it’s been a while since you did any strenuous activity, so it’s better to take precautions than risk injury or other health risks. If you have health issues, for example, get clearance from your doctor to make sure your exercise plan is okay. 

Before starting any physical activity, make sure to warm up by stretching and doing easier versions of your upcoming exercise. On the opposite side, once you’re done working out, make sure to take a few minutes and cooldown through a light jog or gentle stretches. This will help your heart return to its resting heart rate and help prevent soreness or injury. Also make sure to drink plenty of water and listen to your body—if you’re in pain, stop what you’re doing and figure out what’s wrong. Powering through the pain will only result in injury.

The final thing to keep in mind is making sure your exercise habit sticks. Many people make a vow to exercise, but often don’t stick with it. You have to build new habits in a way that’ll make sure it lasts, so start small and build up to where you need to be. Set up triggers in your daily routine that you’ll associate with starting your workout; doing so will eventually make the habit an automatic thing. Don’t forget to reward yourself as well; find something immediate that you’re looking forward to, but don’t do that until you’ve finished your workout. 

Finally, make sure that your exercises make you feel happy and confident. If you’re doing something that makes you feel otherwise, chances are you won’t stick with it. Figure out what activities are right for you and you’ll stick with them better than you will when forcing yourself through your hated activities.