Parkview Health Logo

Small steps to start getting active

Last Modified: July 14, 2023

Family Medicine, Sports & Exercise


Have you wanted to start your health and fitness journey, but found yourself stalled because of concerns around the best approach? With the internet and social media, the options can be overwhelming. On one site you may see lengthy strength workouts and on others, short bursts of cardio. In this blog, we’ll introduce a few ways you can start living a healthier, happier, more active life, without disrupting your current day-to-day schedule.

Baby steps are still steps

You don't have to run out and join a gym to get active. Start small and try to make exercise a part of your daily routine. As always, we recommend speaking to your primary care provider before beginning a new workout routine

Here are a few tips if you're just starting out:

  • Start by just walking more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away at the grocery store. Walk your dog for longer than usual.
  • Find times in your day when you can fit in a half hour of exercise. Explore different options until you arrive at something that you enjoy doing. Make it fun and easy for yourself to do it, and you will be more likely to keep doing it.
  • Work your way up to doing moderate activity at least 2½ hours a week. Or try to do vigorous activity at least 1¼ hours a week.

When you’re ready, you can take the next steps by trying to:

  • Go longer. If 20 minutes of activity a day feels good for a while, try 30, or 40. You can do this all at one time or break it up into chunks. For example, get 15 minutes of activity in the morning before work, 10 more during your lunch hour, and 15 after work. Or break it into four 10-minute sessions.
  • Go harder. Spending more time exercising is one way to increase activity. But it's not the only way. If you walk now, try walking faster, or walking on hills or stairs. Maybe even carry a couple of light weights while you walk. The extra energy you use for harder activity will increase your muscle mass and make you stronger.
  • Introduce something new. Dust off that bicycle and go for a ride. Or try swimming. Going for a swim gives your body a great workout without any impact on your bones, joints or feet. Add dancing to your routine, paddle a boat or kayak, or give yoga a try. Talk to your doctor about activities that might be right for you.

Taking it to the gym

If you feel you are ready to join a gym and dedicate time and money to your physical and mental health, fitness machines may be a good place to start. These offer both aerobic and strength benefits, depending on which machines you choose. Another bonus to the gym is that it offers great options for indoor exercise when the weather is bad.

Here are a few popular pieces of machinery to get you started at the gym:

  • Treadmills let you walk or jog, while providing information about your activity, such as time, distance and speed.
  • Stationary bikes work much like regular bikes. Many have computers that track your workout. Some even offer interactive classes. Your bike should pedal smoothly and have a comfortable seat that you can adjust to your height. If you need help getting the bike set up for your body, ask a gym employee.
  • Cross-country ski machines are good for burning calories. They can help you build both upper and lower body muscle, with little stress on your joints (low impact).
  • Stair climbers are similar to ski machines, but they work only the lower body muscles and are simpler to use.
  • Elliptical cross-trainers combine elements of treadmills, stair climbers, bikes and cross-country ski machines, delivering a thorough aerobic workout. They also provide some resistance training.

Why is it important to be active?

Moving your body is one of the keys to good health. Regular exercise can help you:

  • Keep your heart and lungs healthy.
  • Lose weight or stay at a healthy weight.
  • Stay strong, limber and capable as you get older.

Getting more active is one of the best things you can do for yourself. And, the best part is, you can garner benefits by starting today, even if you haven’t worked out in years. Exercise is for everyone, it’s just a matter of finding the right movement for you. So, get out there and treat your mind and body to some endorphins!










Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.


Related Blog Posts

View all posts