If you are new to exercise or it’s been a very long time since you worked out, we’ve got some helpful hints to get back into the swing of things.

It’s a great time to get a fresh start on your fitness routine. To feel and look your best you already know that diet and exercise are the key factors to losing those extra Christmas pounds. But how do you turn your good intentions into lasting results? May I suggest an easy two-step solution?

First, take action that can truly produce the changes you’re looking for. And second, make it easy and convenient to follow through with.

Low-intensity, aerobic exercise slowly and steadily burns fat, and includes any activity that gets your pulse up but not so much that you are out of breath. A good rule to follow is if you can sing and still work out you are not working out hard enough, but if you can’t talk and work out, you are working out too hard. Find that sweet spot right in between and that is your perfect zone.

Things like walking, biking and swimming all work as long as you keep it within your body’s means and don’t over-exert yourself. Mini-trampolines and elliptical machines are good, too, as they mix up the type of movement your muscles experience. and helps keep boredom from creeping in.

Here are some more pointers on how to get started:

    • Start low and slow. Anybody can do five or 10 minutes a day. You can build up slowing by increasing five minutes, each week until you are up to 30 or 45 minutes a day.
    • Frequency is key. You should aim for five to six times a week. You can do two 20-minutes sessions instead of one 40-minute workout too if you like. It’s more effective anyway, especially for fat burning.
    • Schedule your low-intensity workouts right before or after a meal. It helps maintain stable blood sugar levels and increases your results.
    • Be sure you stay comfortable. Forget that “No pain, no gain” saying. If you are in pain and huffing and puffing, it’s counter-productive, and you’ll just end up quitting. Keep it safe and comfortable.

Combine aerobic exercise with resistance training to get a well-rounded and complete workout for your heart, bones, and muscles too. Resistance training with or without weights (builds muscle and muscle mass) increases metabolism (burns fat even at rest), and has everything to do with improvements in your shape, i.e., how you look.

We’ve already discussed aerobic exercise: walking, biking, swimming, dancing, roller blading, and cross-country skiing. There’s tons to do inside and outside. Here are three resistance-type exercises you can do without the need for weights or going to the gym:

Repeat this series of exercises two times a week, with a least three days rest in between. This allows sufficient recovery time to allow your muscles to adapt and respond to the exercises, reducing risk of injury and maximizing your results.

Push Ups

push ups

Begin by pushing yourself up/down against a wall.

As your strength improves, stand a little further away from the wall.

When this becomes too easy, move to the floor, only do the push-ups on your knees until you build enough strength to do so from your toes.

Push yourself up/down slowly and deliberately; repeat until fatigued or after about 14 reps, whichever comes first.

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Chin-Ups

chin ups

Place a stool under the chin-up bar so that when you stand your chin is above the bar. You can purchase a doorway mounted chin-up bar and easily install it in your home for about $20.

Grab the bar, supporting your weight, and slowly raise your feet off the stool, holding your body in place and keeping your chin above the bar. If you can’t hold yourself up and support all your weight, keep one foot on the stool to carry some of your weight.

Slowly lower yourself; when your arms are extended straight (basically hanging from the bar), place your feet back on the stool and stand back up to starting position again. You no longer need the stool when you’re strong enough to raise/lower yourself.

Repeat about 10 times until you fatigue (i.e., you can’t lower yourself in a controlled fashion).

Lunges

lunges

Stand upright, feet should be shoulder width apart.

Take a big step forward with your right foot; bend your right knee; put about 70% of your weight on the right leg.

Lower your body until you left knee touches the floor (or as close as you can without causing any pain).

Slowly and smoothly rise up, pushing yourself up from your right foot, returning to your original standing position.

Repeat the motion with the opposite leg, and continue until you have completed 10 reps with each leg, or until you can no longer do the lunges smoothly due to fatigue.

Be sure to maintain your upper body in an upright position throughout the exercise. Don’t lean forward.

If the exercise is too difficult or provokes any pain, take a smaller step forward; if that doesn’t help, stop and try another day

In order to be successful you should avoid any exercise that causes pain, especially any joint pain. A little burning pain in the muscles is expected.

You should schedule your exercise sessions in your weekly calendar and piggy back your exercise before or after something you already routinely do like brushing your teeth or before or after a meal. You’ll get better results if you make a chart and record how long or how many reps you did each session. A way to keep you motivated might be to share and celebrate your progress with friends and family. If your progress seems to stall, or you get bored, switch up your exercises and or your routine, or take a week off. Most importantly, don’t forget to breathe and smile. Doing both of these things even when you aren’t exercising are sure to bring you a little more happiness.