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A Beginner's Guide to Working Out

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

One of the best things you can do for your health is exercise regularly. After just a couple of workouts, you'll be able to feel and see the beneficial effects throughout your entire body.

However, we understand that it can be hard to find the motivation and drive to develop a consistent workout routine. In this blog, we’ll break down why exercise is so important and give you some tips to develop a workout plan of your own.

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Exercise 101:

Exercise can benefit everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, shape, size, or ability. One of the best things about working out is that it truly benefits the entire body.

Some of the key benefits of exercise include:

  • Improve cholesterol levels

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Immediate boost in cognitive ability

  • Reduced risk of heart disease

  • Support health of muscles, joints, and bones

  • Reduced risk of depression and anxiety

  • Improved sleep quality

  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes

  • Decreased risk of developing cancer of the:

    • Breast

    • Colon

    • Esophagus

    • Kidney

    • Lung

    • Stomach

    • Bladder

  • Improve blood sugar

  • Increased longevity

  • Maintain healthy weight

To summarise, exercise can help improve all aspects of your life.

Types of exercise:

As you likely already know, there are many different ways to exercise. Each form of exercise will work a different aspect of your body.

Some of the most common include:

  1. Aerobic → This form of exercise includes some form of continuous movement- like running, swimming, walking, or jogging. It’s also commonly known as cardio. When you’re doing an aerobic exercise, your breathing and heart rate will increase.

  2. Strength → These exercises will focus on increasing muscle power and strength. Some examples include weightlifting, resistance training, plyometrics, and sprinting.

  3. Calisthenics → This type of exercise is usually done without gym equipment and works the big muscle groups. You want to get your heart rate up, but stay in a medium aerobic range. Examples include situps, pullups, pushups, and lunges.

  4. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) → HIIT exercises include repetitions of short bursts of high-intensity moves followed by low-intensity exercises or rests. HIIT can be incredibly beneficial, just make sure you’re getting proper rest.

  5. Balance & stability → These moves are designed to improve body coordination and strengthen your muscles. Some examples include pilates, core-strengthening moves, or tai chi.

  6. Flexibility → This form of exercise works to help muscle recovery, prevent injury, and maintain range of motion. Yoga is the most famous example of flexibility exercises.

Getting started:

1. Check your health.

The first step in beginning your workout journey is to check your general health. Get a physical from your healthcare provider just to ensure that your body is in a good place to start working out regularly. This is especially vital for those who are brand new to vigorous or strenuous physical activities.

A check-up will detect any potential problems or conditions that could lead to later injury caused by working out.

2. Create a plan and set realistic goals.

A fitness plan can be a great way to organize your workout routine. Be sure to include attainable steps and goals. This will help to keep yourself motivated as you advance on your fitness journey.

For example, if your goal is to run a 5-k, start your plan with shorter runs that slowly build up to 5-k. These small, attainable goals will help to increase your chances of success and keep you motivated on your journey.

3. Make it a habit.

Working exercise into your daily routine is a great way to help you stick with it. Studies have found that one great way to maintain a physical fitness routine is replacing an unhealthy habit with new, healthier ones. For example, instead of watching TV for an hour after work on your couch, try watching your favorite shows at the gym on the elliptical!

Making a schedule or working out at the same time every day are great ways to help you sustain your routine and make it last!

Example workout program:

Below is an easy, 1-week workout program that doesn’t require any additional equipment and will only take between 30-45 minutes to complete. This routine can be adjusted to your fitness level and made to be as challenging as you want.

  • Monday → 40-minute brisk walk or moderate-paced jog

  • Tuesday → Rest day!

  • Wednesday → 10 minute brisk walk. Then complete the following circuits, with one-minute rests between sets but not exercises. Don’t forget to finish with a stretch!

  • Thursday → Rest day!

  • Friday → 30 minute moderate-paced jog or bike ride

  • Saturday → Rest day!

  • Sunday → 40 minutes of walking, jogging, or running.

This 1-week program is just a simple sample to get you started! Youtube and Healthline can be great resources to find more workout routines!

Beginner tips:

1. Drink lots of water!

You’ll sweat when you’re working out, which makes drinking water even more important. Drinking water while you're exercising will also help to maintain optimal performance, especially when it’s hot.

Further, proper hydration after your workout can help you to recover properly and get your body primed for the next training session.

2. Make sure you’re eating right!

A balanced diet is an essential part of your fitness journey. Every food group plays a different role in priming your body for a workout and recovering after one:

  • Carbohydrates work to fuel your muscles before a workout. Carbs also restore your glycogen muscles and help you build muscles after a workout.

  • Protein helps to improve muscle recovery, repairs tissue damage, and builds muscle mass following a workout. Protein before a workout has been linked to improved fitness performance.

  • Healthy fats help the body to burn fat and preserve muscle fuel when you consume them before a workout.

3. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down!

The pre and post-workout routine of warming up and cooling down are two often forgotten parts of exercising. But they shouldn’t be!

Warming up with some easy arm swings, walking lunges, or leg kicks can help to prevent injury and improve athletic performance in the long run. Warming up can also help to reduce soreness after your workout and improve your flexibility.

Cooling down helps your body return to its normal state following a workout. Doing some easy stretches can work to restore normal breathing patterns and reduce soreness.

4. Don’t be afraid of the rest days!

For those of us who are Type A, taking rest days may seem hard to do. But actually, they are an integral part of a fitness routine.

Taking rest days helps your body to recover from the stress of working, both physically and mentally. The more rest days you skip, the more likely your cortisol levels will rise and reverse all the beneficial progress you’ve made.

How to stay motivated?

The key to making exercise into a habit and staying motivated is by having fun while you’re doing it! This will help exercise feel less like a chore and more like something to look forward to!

Some great ways to make working out fun include:

  • Watching your favorite shows while working out

  • Finding a workout partner

  • Set goals

  • Make a great playlist

  • Get better workout clothes and shoes

  • Join a workout class

  • Get outside

  • Incorporate new exercises to avoid boredom

Trust us, we know it can be hard to develop a consistent workout routine. But by doing so, you will see some major benefits to your overall health. Start easy and slow and before you know it, you’ll be a fitness pro!

For more information, click here to contact us, or call 276-235-3205 to schedule your complimentary discovery call with Dr. Johnson.

The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!


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