How to start exercising when you’re out of shape

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Take a brief walk outside a little at a time. Get some comfortable walking shoes and move!

The first time I made up my mind to walk one mile, I struggled. Felt like forever. I kept looking at my Fitbit and laughing because I couldn’t believe it was taking so long. It took me about 20 minutes and I was breathing hard and sweating when I finished.

But, I finished the mile.

How to start exercising after a long time? Take a step. Steps add up and then you start getting faster (not that you need to be fast). I was out of shape when I first started walking and I am still a long way from what I consider to be “in shape”, but guess what I can do now? I can walk ten miles in a day.

I started last fall armed with my Fitbit and sheer will (I had no car then, so I was highly motivated). My husband walked with me and we have really grown to love walking. I personally think that walking is a great start if you have not been exercising at all.

In nine months I went from struggling through one mile to comfortably completing 10 in one day. My personal best is 13 miles in a day and it all started with conquering just one mile.

How to start exercising again

Start small and build. If you’re not ready for a personal trainer, it’s OK! If you can’t afford a gym membership or don’t feel like hearing someone grunt at the next machine, that’s fine too. Think about a small goal you want to accomplish and then find the best way to achieve it at your fitness level.

For example, you may want to lose five pounds. One pound is equal to 3,500 calories. To lose five pounds, you’ll have to burn 17,500 calories. You can do it with a combination of watching your calories and exercise, but be careful not to eat more calories than you need. To hit your targets, you can’t cancel out your hard work with overeating. Trust me, it is easy to do.

At my height, weight, and age, a brisk 30-minute walk will burn 200 calories. If I commit to this five times a week, I burn 4,000 calories a month (that’s already a pound and some change)!

I normally consume about 2,000 calories a day (60,000 calories a month). If I drop down to 1,200 calories a day (I never suggest going lower than this for an extended period) I shave off 24,000 calories in a month which is more than enough to meet a goal of losing five pounds.

Tiny changes add up, so use an app to help you plan. Most calorie tracking apps can be used on your phone or desktop and usually have tools to help you track daily calories and calories burned by being active. My favorite is MyFitnessPal.

Calorie tracking apps to help you lose weight

I’ve been using MyFitnessPal for years. I’m all for technology. I used to hate tracking calories because I did it all by hand in a notebook using a food scale and a stack of calorie reference books.

What is MyFitnessPal?

MyFitnessPal is an app that assists with tracking calories, nutrients, water consumption and activity. It is available on iOS and Android devices. You may also access it from a desktop. You can alternate between your phone or desktop and your daily journal will stay synced.

When using MyFitnessPal, you log all food and beverages and track your activities. Think of it like an online health journal. MyFitnessPal gives you access to a wealth of food data — everything from raw ingredients to restaurant meals. The site claims to have more than 11 million foods in its database.

Similar apps include:

  • Lose It!
  • Fooducate
  • Lifesum
  • Fitbit
  • Jawbone UP
  • My Diet Coach
  • MyPlate
  • Calorie Count

I’ve tried Lose It! and Fitbit as well, but I always come back to MyFitnessPal. I think you have to stick with what you like best to stay consistent.

How to start working out at home

My best advice when starting to exercise is set a small goal and find a safe exercise routine. It will help you build a foundation to reach your goal. Walking is a great start. It’s a low-impact cardio exercise that works your entire body. Low-impact exercises take it easy on your joints. If you have a pool, try walking around in the water to further minimize joint upset.

I started working out at home with 15-minute walking exercises by Leslie Sansone. You can find many of her walk at home workouts on YouTube. At first I thought, how will 15 minutes do anything? After sweating my way through the first workout I said, “Oh!”

Just start with 15 minutes a day or every other day and watch yourself slowly build your fitness level. Once it is no longer a challenge, add more time, but know that you don’t have to work out for hours every day to improve your fitness level.

Slow and steady still wins the race when it comes to overall health and shrinking your midsection. Just by reducing your belly fat, you may lower risk factors for diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.

Bodyweight exercises are another good starting point. These are exercises that require no equipment such as:

  • lunges
  • planks
  • push ups
  • burpees
  • mountain climbers
  • squats
  • leg raises

The key is to make sure you are doing slow, controlled movements with good form to avoid stress or injury. Talk to your physician or a fitness professional about tips for exercising safely.

Inquire at your job to see if there are programs in place for discounted gym memberships or fitness classes when you are ready to take it to the next level. Some gym memberships even include a few free sessions with a personal trainer to make sure you have a routine that works for you.

How to stay consistent with working out

Find some like-minded people that want to improve health. Hold each other accountable by checking in weekly to discuss actions to reach your respective goals. Set an appointment on your phone or desktop calendar for workouts. Sometimes seeing a reminder pop up is all the motivation you need.

Write down your goals and keep them in a place where you can see them every day. Repetition can often turn into habit. Make working out a new habit and reap the rewards day by day.

Following these simple tips of starting small, choosing low impact exercises such as walking, and watching your caloric intake will no doubt move you from the couch to the pavement. Get in touch and let me know if you enjoy walking!

Robyn Evans is an award-winning writer, author, speaker, singer and all around lover of all things health. She started her health journey in late 2015 and is always looking for information to help people live healthier lives. Currently, Robyn is a distributor for Total Life Changes. Visit to view her product line or get in touch.

Disclaimer: Your use of this site means that you agree to accept this disclaimer in full. Please do not use this site if you do not agree. Unless otherwise stated, all information and resources shared on this site are the sole opinion of the author. I am not a medical professional in any way, shape or form! The purpose of my blog is to share my personal experiences with weight loss, healthy eating and well, life in general. My hope is that it sparks and inspires more people to care about their health. Maybe you’ll even laugh a bit. If so, SCORE! If you purchase any products from my site or any other affiliate links included in my blog posts, I would like for you to know that I will receive a commission. I am transparent. Any products recommended or featured on this site are not evaluated or endorsed by the FDA and are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or otherwise eliminate any illness or disease. ALWAYS consult a medical professional before taking this or any other advice about health. Be safe and do your own research. Thank you!

Author: Robyn

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