The First Steps to Fitness

The First Steps to Fitness

- Jenn Gill

Here's a hypothetical situation: it's March 21st, the first day of spring. It's a glorious day and you are ready to shake off the winter blues and get active. You haven't been active in...let's just say you've taken some time off. You put on the shoes that have been sitting on your closet floor all winter and head outside for a run. You get started, the first minute you feel really good. So, you speed it up. Then your heart starts racing. You cannot catch your breath. You feel like your lungs will burst out of your chest. You turn around and go home, cursing yourself for even trying. You'll try again tomorrow. Though tomorrow comes and your knees ache and you tell yourself you'll try again some other time.

Sound familiar? If so, you're not alone.

Everyone has to start somewhere and spring is the perfect time to do so. The days are getting longer and warmer and seeing everyone being active outside is just darn inspiring! But the important thing to remember is that you have to go about it the right way in order to prevent the above scenario from happening. The first step to fitness is starting your fitness program from your own current level of fitness or it can lead to you getting hurt or getting burned out, or both. Some ways to determine your current level of fitness are: see how long it takes you to walk one miles - measuring your heart rate before and after walking the mile and measuring your waist circumference at the navel. These are some indicators of your current fitness and health. Though you should consult your doctor before you start any fitness program to be sure you're healthy enough for the type of activity you're about to try.

The next step on the road to fitness is determining your goals. What do you want your fitness program to do for you? Are you interested in losing weight? Do you want to rev up your current routine by trying something new? Do you want to challenge yourself and accomplish something you thought impossible? Or do you want to get active while meeting new people? Whatever your goals may be, it's important to have manageable goals that you can actually reach. If you set your goals too high, it can be very discouraging if you don't reach them. This can lead to you quitting all together. 

The third step to fitness is thinking about your likes and dislikes. Say a friend of yours is really into a particular sport and wants you to try it, but you know you would rather be tarred and feathered than participate - it's nothing against your friend, but you know you will loathe every minute of practice and may even be mad at your friend for dragging you along. What's worse, you probably won't put much effort into it and possibly quit. It may take a few tries to find something you really like, but you're more likely to be active (and successful) if you do something that you like.

The fourth step to fitness nirvana is to start gradually. In that scenario above, you started off at full throttle and subsequently gave up and went home, never to try again. Next time, start off slowly and build up to full throttle after you've put some time in to building up your stamina and endurance. Instead of running like a speed demon, start off at a pace that allows you to carry on a conversation. This will allow you to control your breathing and actually go a little farther than you would have been able to do at full speed. Understand that starting off slowly will reduce the likelihood of getting hurt as well as encourage and motivate you to continue going. 

The last step on the road to fitness, and my personal favorite, is to JUST DO IT. Stop thinking about it and get to it. Don't be afraid to start an exercise routine. It doesn't have to be intimidating. And physical activity doesn't have to be a punishment. It can be fun and something that empowers you. With the right tools, you can be successful and reach your goals. 

We at Fleet Feet Sports can help you with those tools. We can help you get new shoes that fit properly and offer the correct amount of support and/or cushion. Proper shoes can help prevent injury and help you feel good while working out, a key to success. We can help you with fitness apparel, to be sure you're wearing clothing that will wick sweat away, leaving your skin drier and more comfortable. When you're comfortable, you're more likely to continue. We have accessories, medical items, nutrition products and everything you could possibly need to get started with a new fitness routine. All you have to do is come in and we'll be here to help you get on the right track.

If you're thinking about starting a running program, whether you've never run before or have been injured and want to come back to the sport, our No Boundaries 5K and our WalkFIT programs are a great way to get started. You will get so much information about running form, staying injury-free, how to hydrate and eat well and more. You are more likely to run regularly and learn the proper running do's and don'ts. You are more likely to have fun. And that's what running is all about. If it's fun, you're more likely to do it and stick with it. Just follow the program! Many of our No Boundaries alumni have become life-long runners, completing 10Ks, half marathons, marathons and triathlons. Friendships are made, and traditions are formed through our training programs. You just cannot get that on your own. 

Whichever fitness routine you ultimately end up selecting, know that being active is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It is the single, easiest way to live a longer, healthier life. You can't ask for more than that!

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