Exercise: getting started

Posted on May 8, 2018 by Brynna Gabrielson

Friends working out at the gym

Being active and exercising is a great way to improve both your physical and mental wellbeing. Exercise has been shown to benefit mental health, and is even suggested by NICE as a prescription to patients who have mild to moderate depression.

When it comes to getting active, there's a lot of choice. Maybe even too much choice! It can seem quite overwhelming to choose a path, especially one that you'll enjoy. You don't want little things, like not knowing how to use a piece of gym equipment or not knowing the best type of shoes, to hold you back. So what can you do?

Ask a friend

If you have a friend that takes a class, goes to the gym, or plays on a team - asking them for some support and to introduce you to their chosen activity might be just the ticket. They'll provide guidance where you might need it, and it's a great way to spend more time with your friend as well. Or if you want to try something new your friend isn't partaking in, ask them to come along and try it with you. It's always nice to have a bit of back up when exploring something new.

Find activities for beginners

If you look to your local gym you'll probably find a list of offered classes - from Aquafit and Zumba to HIIT and Yoga. Find something rated for beginners specifically, which means you'll be starting out with a group of others who likely don't quite know what they're doing as well! You'll be able to learn together. If you don't want to take a class, you can also find lots of beginner activities online to try, from workout tutorials on YouTube, to training plans and apps like the Couch to 5K.

Join a gym

At first going to a gym might seem quite daunting. There are dozens of different machines, all or many of which you won't know how to use. But many gyms also come with an induction session where a member of staff will show you how to use a selection of the equipment. You'll get your bearings with some support. As you move on and get used to the machines you've been taught to use, you might find yourself interested in trying new machines. You can always ask someone who works there, but if you're feeling shy, try watching how others use the machines to get a general sense of what to do before giving it a go yourself. 

Do your research

The internet is a great tool to help you get familiar with a world of different activities. If you want to learn how to use a piece of gym equipment, try out a home fitness routine, or read up on other's experiences trying out different types of activities - you'll find all this and more with a quick search. You can also learn about what type of kit you might need.  If learning as much as you can before trying something new helps you feel prepared, then this is a great idea.

Try something familiar

There's a reason the phrase 'just like riding a bike' exists. Because once you learn to ride a bike, it's pretty hard to forget how, even if it's been years! So if you want to start exercising, try something you once did, even if it was when you were a kid! Ride a bike, or swim some lanes at the local pool.

Find something you'll like

There's nothing worse than having to force yourself to do any activity. And if you're already struggling to find motivation to get moving, it'll be even harder if you're doing something you don't enjoy. So when considering a new activtiy to start, ask yourself if it's something that you can see yourself liking and sticking with. But just because something is unfamiliar or looks challenging, don't write it off! It's always good to try new things as well - you may like something you never expected!

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