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It’s said that a body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest stays at rest.
But it doesn’t have to.
“If you’re inactive, it can be hard to start exercising,” says Eric Poulin, M.D., a family medicine physician in Zumbrota.
Hard, but not impossible, says Dr. Poulin. Especially if you keep a few things in mind.
“Don’t expect to have a lot of endurance or strength when you first start out,” says Dr. Poulin. “Start where you are and gradually increase your efforts.”
Dr. Poulin says many people struggle to begin working out because they are carrying extra pounds.
“Being overweight can make exercise painful,” he says. “You may want to try to lose some weight through dietary changes before beginning to work out.”
Your provider can offer tips to help you lose weight and help you develop a safe plan for working out.
Pick something fun
Once you’re ready to begin, choosing an activity you enjoy is key to developing a routine you can maintain.
“I like rock climbing because it doesn’t feel like exercise to me,” says Dr. Poulin.
Combining exercise with TV time can work, too. Dr. Poulin uses an elliptical machine while he watches football games on Sundays, and lifts weights during the commercial breaks.
Finally, pay attention to your aches and pains.
“Listen to your body,” says Dr. Poulin. “Pain that doesn’t go away or gets worse as you exercise is a signal that something is wrong. Stop your workout and make an appointment to see your provider.”
How much is enough?
How much exercise do you need? According to the Department of Health and Human Services, adults should aim for:
- At least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (walking, swimming, mowing the lawn) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (running, aerobics)
- Two or three strength training sessions a week
Tips for avoiding injuries
Allison Shannon, a physician assistant specializing in orthopedics, offers these tips to avoid injuries:
- Remember to warm up and stretch before exercising.
- Use the right equipment, especially shoes.
- Gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your activity.
- Increase your training by no more than 10 percent per week.
- Listen to your body. If it hurts, stop what you’re doing.
If you have an ache or pain that lingers, schedule an appointment with a provider.