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  • Start Slow and Take Baby Steps
    • If you’re not used to working out, start by getting active in small ways: ;Take the stairs instead of the elevator Go for a brisk walk after dinner. ;Move whenever you can.
    • Keep moving in your daily activities – taking the stairs whenever possible, walking your errands instead of driving – and you’ll start to notice results.
  • Make a Routine
    • Make time for a morning workout, or squeeze in exercise after work. Start a schedule
    • Pressed for time? Break up your workouts into segments – 20 minutes in the morning, and 20 before dinner.
    • Find what works for you and stick with it Habits are hard to break, and once you form a workable plan you’ll find it easy to stick to.
  • Increase your Workouts
    • Start with 3 times a week, for 30-60 minutes of moderate activity.
    • Gradually increase the length and frequency of your workouts, but don’t try to do too much too fast.
    • Boost your workouts by length and intensity by only 10% after every two weeks Your body needs to get used to your new active lifestyle.
  • Learn to Lift
    • Everyone can benefit from strength training Lifting weights is a great way tone up and slim down, fast.
    • Strength training fires up your metabolism and keeps it elevated for hours.
    • Muscle requires more calorie expenditure to ;work ;properly, so ultimately the more muscle you have, the more fat you’ll burn Another bonus: Weight-bearing activities improve bone-density and overall fitness endurance.
    • Maintain proper form Be sure you have a trainer or knowledgeable gym buddy show you the basics first, so you don’t injure yourself.
  • Combine for Strength and Endurance
    • Maximize your workout by incorporating both cardio and ;strength ;training into your workout regimen.
    • Experiment with cardio and strength routines Do your favorite form of cardio for 40 minutes, and add 20 minutes of strength training. Or get a great full-body workout in less time by combining HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training, which is a circuit composed of explosive cardio movements) and a strength training routine.
  • Switch it up
    • Don’t do the same thing every workout and your body will both get bored, and you’ll stop seeing results.
    • Switch up the length, intensity, and type of workout you do for variety Is jogging your thing? Try alternating speed and incline on your runs. Change it up again by sampling a step-aerobic ;or Zumba class.
  • Write it down.
    • Chart your exercise schedule in a journal.
    • Organize your workouts so you’ll know what to do each day, as well as which exercises you should save for later in the week.
    • Track your progress, to help you stay motivated and reach your fitness goals.
  • Nourish
    • Eat a small meal of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fat before and after workouts.
    • Have a small snack about an hour before you exercise Try a ;banana ;with greek yogurt pre-workout.
    • Eat a balanced meal post-workout All meals should combine protein, whole grains and healthy fats, but you may need to adjust by workout type. Eat more lean protein after ;strenuous ;strength training, and consume more complex carbs after an intense bout of cardio.
    • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after workouts.
  • Rest
    • Overtraining can cause injury Your body needs time to recover, especially from ;strenuous ;workouts.
    • Wait at least 42 hours between training the same muscle-groups.
    • Don’t overdo high-impact cardio (like running), though you can perform moderate or lower-intensity activities on your off days.
    • ;Try alternating intense workout days with lower-impact activities, such as ;Pilates ;or yoga Craving cardio? Head for the pool. Swimming is a great cardio activity that also tones your muscles without adding pressure to joints.
  • Stay Motivated
    • Get a gym buddy or personal trainer – being obligated to another person will keep you from breaking exercise plans.
    • Feeling lethargic? Take a look at your exercise ;regimen Perhaps your routine has gotten stale and you need to overhaul your schedule.
    • Avoid overtraining Working out too hard too often can burn you out fast and ruin your health.
    • Ensure you’re getting enough nourishment and calories to fuel your body through your workouts.
    • Look at your workout journal to help you locate and resolve the problem Retool your workout, stay positive, and reach your goals.

Are you looking to start an exercise program, but are stumped by where to begin? Our Exercise Plan Checklist gives you the tools you need to get your health – and body – on track. Stay fit and informed will these invaluable workout tips, and you’ll get the most from your exercise regimen.

Exercise Plan Checklist
  Lauren Meir

on May 20, 2012

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