Article Work out how to work out again with my top 10 pre-exercise considerations
Are you overwhelmed by the idea of starting or returning to exercise?
You know that exercise is good for you and you’re considering it, but you don’t know where to begin.
Working through these 10 questions will give you clarity and prepare you for success.
1. Why am I considering exercise?
Your reason for considering exercise will initially serve as your motivation.
Once you get going, the good feelings that emerge from doing it will spur you to continue.
You will possibly come up with an answer like one of these:
- I know I need to exercise
- I want to lose weight
- I need to be fitter
- I want to look better
- I need to be healthier
Whatever answer you come up with at first, keep asking why until you get to something deep.
When I drilled into my reason for exercising, it went like this:
- Why do I exercise? To be healthy.
- Why? I don’t want to succumb to my family history of heart disease.
- Why? I don’t want my life to be shortened or limited by heart disease.
- Why? I want to age healthily and sustain a high quality of life.
- Why? Because I don’t want to suffer like my poor dad.
Boom! This realisation hit me hard.
My dad lived to the grand age of 90 with a sharp mind, still wanting to learn something new and engage with the world.
However, the last 10 years were extremely hard for him because of immobility related to his heart disease, osteoarthritis, and other medical problems.
It was heartbreaking.
This is my deep motivation for exercise.
What is yours?
2. What do I want to get out of exercise?
Having established your core reason for exercising, you can progress to thinking about the outcomes you want.
It’s important to think about this before you start because it will inform other choices you need to make further down this list.
You might want to improve your strength and endurance for your favourite sport or pastime, or maybe you just want to feel good and have an outlet for your stress.
Do you want to be able to run 10 km, or do you just want to improve your general health?
I believe that most of the outcomes that people derive from exercise fall into four main categories.
- Feeling good physically
- Improve and maintain mobility
- Improve health
- Feeling good mentally
I wrote about this in a previous post. You can check it out here if you like.
Note that weight loss is not on my outcomes list.
Wanting to lose weight by exercising is likely to be a disappointment and I’ve also written about this. Here is the link to that post.
3. What are my barriers?
Everyone has their own set of obstacles to starting or sustaining an exercise routine.
The most common ones are being busy and not having time, as well as being tired.
Self-consciousness is a big issue too, with many being concerned about exercising where other people can see them.
And those first sessions can be intimidating.
It’s scary to think about being out of breath and uncomfortable or having sore muscles the next day.
What gets in your way?
Knowing your barriers is the first step to breaking through them.
4. When am I going to exercise?
Seems like a simple question, but there is a lot to consider in answering because it involves that precious and finite resource.
I recommend a minimum of two sessions per week even when you’re getting started.
However, if you can only manage once per week initially, then once per week it is.
Once per week is better than none per week.
Next, decide which one or two days of the week.
Then you need to decide how much time on those one or two days you can commit.
Allocating one hour per session is ideal, but you can get started with just 30 minutes.
Even 10 minutes at a time!
You can get started with my 5 minute daily warm up routine, which you can learn with this awesome video series. Click here to get started 🙂
The next consideration is the time of day.
What time of day do you like to exercise?
Or do you have to decide based on when you can fit it in?
How much travel time do you need to factor in if you’re going to go somewhere to exercise?
And this point leads to the next question.
5. Where will I exercise?
The answer here may depend in part on your answer to the next question about what exercise you want to do, but there are two main options.
At home, or somewhere else?
The idea of going to a gym/studio or group exercise situation can be daunting for many people starting or returning to exercise.
So, getting into a groove in the familiar surroundings of your home is ideal.
There are lots of options for home workouts.
6. What exercise will I do?
It’s hard to decide with so many alternatives available.
These are my minimum recommendations in terms of the type of exercise.
- Strength training at least once per week, ideally twice per week
This involves doing movements against some form of resistance such as your own bodyweight, weights, or bands.
- Endurance activity at an easy pace for 30 minutes once or twice per week
Think brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, or working out on a piece of cardio equipment.
Try a few different things to find something you can enjoy and sustain.
Most fitness establishments have free or low-cost trials available.
7. What will I wear?
This is not a trivial question.
Especially if self-consciousness about exercising is one of your barriers.
It depends in part on what exercise you decide to do.
If you’re going to swim for instance, then you’ll need appropriate attire.
Wear what makes you comfortable while considering these practical tips:
- If you wear a bra, go to a shop with a fitting service and invest in a supportive sports bra
- If you are going to do ANY running, go to a shoe shop with a fitting service and invest in supportive training shoes that suit YOUR feet
Make practical choices based on the type of exercise and comfort.
8. How will I stay accountable and committed?
Each of us has our own way of sticking to something.
Do you need a regular commitment to keep you accountable?
For example, a regular session with a trainer or group activity.
Maybe you need an exercise buddy.
You might exercise together or just check in regularly to catch up and talk about what you both have been doing for your fitness.
Making regular payments to access fitness services is motivating for some people.
Quarantining time in your schedule so it’s just part of your life is also a great idea.
Some people give themselves rewards for achievements.
Anything that helps you uphold your commitment to yourself.
9. How do I feel now?
How you are feeling may be behind your consideration of exercise.
Think about how you feel physically.
Are you tired, stiff, sore, unfit, frail, injured…?
How does your body feel?
Also note how you feel mentally.
Are you exhausted, stressed, frazzled…?
It’s important to note your answer to these questions somewhere, even if it’s just a mental note or having a chat about it with someone.
This note will give you a point of comparison for when you’re exercising regularly.
10. How will I feel when I’m exercising regularly?
Thinking about the fact that you will feel better when exercising regularly can be a motivating force when it feels so hard to start.
You might remember a period from the past when you were training and reflect on how you felt.
Your answer to this question might relate to the previous question and hoping to feel the opposite.
I guarantee you will feel better, although it’s usually after a session rather than during when you’re starting out 😊
With regular exercise you feel better in your daily life more often.
Get back on the fitness wagon
I’ve collated these top 10 pre exercise consideration questions in a workbook that you can download for free and work through at your own pace. Grab it here!
That’s a lot to think about even before starting exercise
I know, but all I’ve done here is formalise the information I cover with clients in the initial phases of working with them.
I hope that putting it together like this will be helpful for anyone considering exercise.
Do you wish you had thought about all these things before starting your fitness journey?
Have I missed something?
Are you considering exercise and found this helpful?
I’d love to hear from you.
Keep in touch
Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect via social media.
If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love others in the FiftyFitness blog. I share a new article twice each month.
Complete the form below to subscribe and get my latest articles straight to your inbox.