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Finding the Right Exercise Plan for You

Starting an exercise program can feel overwhelming. How much should I work out? What if I can't keep up? Which activities should I do?

Finding the Right Exercise Plan for You

By Justin Roberson, Profile Manager

Starting an exercise program can feel overwhelming. How much should I work out? What if I can’t keep up? Which activities should I do?

The answer is – whatever you want. Each form of exercise has its own advantages. Yes, running burns more calories per mile than walking. Yes, swimming is a good low-impact option. Sure, some people find high intensity boot camp classes to be fun, even if they do come with a higher risk of injury. But does this mean any of them are right for you?

Find the right exercise by asking a few questions:

1. What do you want to accomplish?

The more challenging the exercise, the more dramatic the physical outcome will be. But if you’re just beginning, you don’t have to jump into the tough stuff right away. You can go from walking to running, dog-paddling to lap-swimming, easy fitness classes to harder ones, or stationary cycling to ambitious road biking. There are many ways to start slow and progress; baby steps will take you a long way.

2. Will you always hate it?

That high intensity aerobics class may be an amazing calorie burner or muscle builder, but if you hate it, then it’s not the right exercise for you. There has to be the possibility that you will learn to love it.

3. Can you afford it?

The financial question is always one worth considering. Can you afford that gym membership, personal trainer or boot camp series? Run the numbers and decide if this is something in your budget. Don’t forget to factor in perks that may make it worth the cost, such as a gym that also offers daycare.

4. Does it work with your schedule?

If it’s a constant struggle to fit that 5:15 p.m. yoga class into your schedule, then you’ll often find excuses not to do it. Conversely, if something is convenient for you, the odds of you adhering to the new regimen go way up. Remember this when planning your workouts.

5. Is it practical?

You may be lukewarm on the idea of swimming, but if your apartment has a nice pool with free access any time of day, it’s worth considering. If you’re close to work and a nice bike path, bike commuting could become your thing. Analyze the exercise you’re considering and make practical decisions to see if it will work with your situation.

There are different ways to get in shape, and you should never let anyone make you feel guilty about your choice. The fact is, the vast majority of people don’t exercise, and doing anything is light years better than doing nothing. Find a thing, and make it your thing!