5 Tips to Start an Exercise Routine


Exercise can be a daunting task for many of us. It is often viewed as a necessary activity that we must engage in to earn the right to consume food or as a form of punishment for overindulging. Moreover, we may hold certain notions about the intensity, duration, or type of exercise required for it to be effective. Such thinking can turn exercise into a tedious task. However, physical activity has numerous benefits beyond its impact on weight and dietary plans. Separating it from weight loss and food-related concerns enables us to focus on its advantages and create long-term motivation.

1. Focus on How It Feels

Engaging in physical activity is an effective way to alleviate stress and enhance our ability to cope with it. This can have a positive impact on our overall mood and well-being, benefiting all aspects of our lives. Regular physical activity can promote better sleep quality and boost energy levels, instilling a sense of empowerment and achievement beyond our exercise routine.

A group of people in a yoga class.

2. Focus on Movement As Self-Care

Research has demonstrated that regular movement can enhance bone density, lower blood pressure, enhance cardiovascular and lung health, improve cholesterol levels, and even prevent cognitive decline with age. In addition to the previously mentioned positive effects on mental well-being, these physical benefits make exercise an effective means of taking care of and showing respect for our bodies.

3. Don’t Get Caught in Exercise Mind Traps

Any amount of physical activity is beneficial. There is no particular duration, level of intensity, or type of exercise that is the sole solution to achieving good health. Breaking up your physical activity into shorter, more frequent sessions throughout the day is just as effective as longer, less frequent workouts. If you prefer to exercise primarily on weekends, that’s still better than doing nothing. And if your options are limited due to injury, simply walking or engaging in water aerobics is commendable because you are still moving your body. The key is to engage in intentional movement. Being busy with other tasks is not equivalent to being physically active.

4. Building a  Lifelong Commitment

Start by incorporating movement into your daily routine. Simple actions like parking farther from your destination, walking your dog, or taking the stairs can make a big difference. Once you’ve established a  daily routine, find ways to make it fun. Choose activities that you enjoy, listen to music or watch your favorite show while you move,  a group to exercise with, or invite your friends and family to join in.

A person jogging with a chocolate labrador.

5. Remember to Rest

Rest is a crucial part of any exercise program. Your muscles need rest to repair and rebuild themselves, which ultimately makes them stronger. Failing to take rest days increases the risk of injury, which could result in an even greater setback. Not taking rest days or honoring your body when it is asking to rest will leave you sore, frustrated, and burnt out, which is not a promising start to a new exercise journey.

The Bottom Line

By following these guidelines, you can develop a positive relationship with exercise, increasing your chances of maintaining it over time. This approach is called mindful movement, meaning the movement is enjoyable rather than a form of punishment. It relieves stress without adding to it and strengthens the mind-body connection while rejuvenating the body. It doesn’t overtax or exhaust it. As a result, movement becomes something you look forward to, and an indispensable part of life.

Photo of Becca Blumberg, MS, RDN

Becca Blumberg, MS, RDN | rebecca.blumberg@hcsgcorp.com

“Food is more than fuel. It is connection, culture, and pleasure. I enjoy helping people reconnect with their love of food and find the joy in eating again.”

Becca has been an HCSG Registered Dietitian since 2021. She earned an MS in Human Nutrition at Colorado State University in 2018 and completed her internship with Gulf Coast Dietetic Internship in 2020. She is an avid trail runner and triathlete and plans to participate in Ironman Alaska in August 2022.