How to Start Your New Exercise Routine

Let’s face it: Many of us had a New Year’s resolution to go to the gym and exercise more. Combined together, losing weight and working out more are the most common New Year’s resolutions. Being a college student, we are all constantly busy: hours of classes every day, club meetings up the wazoo, never-ending reading and studying – not to mention relationships to keep up. Just thinking about having a regular exercise schedule can seem inconceivable!

If you didn’t work out as much as you would have liked last year, you probably started off 2018 telling yourself that you will be so healthy this year and go to the gym as often as you can. Starting the year off with the vague goal to work out more is definitely a start, and you should be proud for taking that first step! However, it is definitely easier said than done. Making an exercise regimen for the first time can be tough, but I’m here to motivate you and give you tips on how to start exercising regularly, one healthy step at a time!

1. WHY: Identify your goals

Before walking over to the campus gym for the first time, take a minute and think about what you want from your new work out routine. This can be an amount of weight you want to lose, a certain mile time you want to hit, a set number of hours you want to work out for each week…really anything that you want to aim for! For bonus inspiration, get a sticky note or make a document on your computer and write down however many goals you have. You can add some inspirational quotes to make you even more pumped. Writing your goals down is proven to be a source of encouragement that keeps you on track. This will help you motivate yourself to get out of bed and remind you why you did this in the first place.

2. WHEN AND WHERE: Let’s plan it out

Once you have your inspiration in line, it’s time to start deciding when you will fit the exercise you want to do into your schedule and which gym you want to hit up on campus. Let’s say your goal was to go to the gym before class. Look at your class schedule, and see when it’s realistic to get yourself all ready for the gym. Remember to leave in time for a shower afterward! The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, so keep that in mind when you make your schedule. If you can block out 30 minutes per day or even every other day, you’re golden.

3. HOW: Make Your Game Plan

Now that you know why and when you are going to be exercising, it’s time to think about how. It’s always good to start an exercise routine with intervals of cardio and strengh training. Think about what your campus gym has in store, and then start thinking about how to take advantage of it. Think about what you want to do for cardio in that time slot: elliptical, treadmill, stairmaster… you call the shots. Remember to switch it up every so often, so that you don’t get bored. Then, when you have your cardio figured out, think about what you want to do to build your muscles. This can be through exercise machines or weights or squats on the mat. YouTube is a wonderful place to look to for floor and mat exercises. Maybe your gym has free classes; check out the class schedule and see what fits in your week! Zumba is great for getting your heart rate up and Barre and pilates classes can tone your tush like no other.

4. Tune Time

To motivate you for the next step, make or find a fire exercise playlist that you know will get you going and make you excited to move to the groove. Mine is filled with Hamilton, Legally Blonde and The Greatest Showman. Can you tell I like musical theater? I literally get so excited when these songs come on and I run to the beat of Elle Woods making history. Tailor your own to your preferences!

5. Let’s get physical…slowly!

My mom always tells me that showing up is 80 percent of life. Once you have all the nitty-gritties of your workout figured out, it’s time to actually put on those leggings, pick up your water bottle and get on over to the gym! Start off slow when you start your regimen. This can either be through a decided amount of time to run on the treadmill, a certain distance or a set calorie count. It’s a very realistic idea to start with one mile on the treadmill or elliptical. One mile is a great milestone to begin with at the beginning of your health kick. When I started exercising, I started with going on the treadmill or elliptical for this short distance. I felt super accomplished and then started building on it every week.

6. We’re all in this together

Exercise buddies are always a good idea. Take your friend to the gym with you, but don’t just limit it to that! Try out fun classes at the gym, go on outside runs and squeeze hikes into your schedule when you have the time and if it’s nice enough out. This will get you excited to get fit, and you will motivate each other to get going when the going gets hard.

7. Assess and Progress

Every time you work out, it’s a good habit to write a note on your phone of what you did and how it made you feel afterward, for your own purposes. After about a week or two of starting your new routine, think about what worked and what didn’t. Did you feel like you could have run more than you did? Were you so dead afterward that you had to take a nap? Figure out what you can do to improve for the next few weeks, and look up some new YouTube exercises that get you excited to pump some iron.

If you follow these steps, you should be well on your way to accomplish your fitness goals! Remember, motivate yourself by listing your goals and deciding on music to listen to, take it easy at first, and ask a friend to join you on your journey! There are so many ways to make working out fun and not a dreaded chore. GO YOU!

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