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Any kind of exercise can be intimidating for someone who has been sedentary for a long time. Taking the first step can be as simple as literally taking a few steps. Here are some guidelines to getting started.
1. Just get moving. Exercise two or three times a day, but for only 10 or 15 minutes at a time. This gets your blood flowing and gets your mind wrapped around the idea of being active. Drink plenty of water.
Stop your activity if you:
• Have pain, tightness or pressure in your chest.
• Feel dizzy or sick
• Break out in a cold sweat
• Experience muscle cramps
2. To reduce stress on joints such as knees and ankles, you may want to avoid a lot of weight-bearing activities.
Some suggested activities:
• Walking - start slow, this is a weight-bearing activity
• Dancing - either standing or seated, if standing, this is a weight-bearing activity
• Shallow- water (waist to chest-high) exercise
• Deep - water exercise - works entire body
• Weight-training - be sure to use correct posture and slow, controlled movements. Start in a seated position and work your way up to standing.
• Bicycling - start with a recumbent bike to avoid joint stress
3. Wear form-fitting clothes, especially on your legs. This is probably not the kind of fashion advice you are used to, but tighter, synthetic clothing wicks away sweat and reduces chafing of the skin. After your workout, use an antibacterial soap and be sure to leave no body part damp.
4. STRETCH! Stretching before and after any physical activity helps prevent injuries during your workouts. However, obese newcomers should avoid stretches that strain the lower back.
5. Buy some new shoes. Running shoes offer the best support and it's good to buy them a size larger than normal since feet swell during exercise.
*Information adapted from the National Institutes of Health website. Click here for additional information.