A lot of people ask me when is the best time to start getting fit and what is the best exercise to do.

You can’t go from being average to being an elite athlete in a short time.  And, yes, it’s hard even to go from unfit to fit in a short time.  But even an increase of 10 minutes walking a day can make a small difference to your health.

Yes, it takes time and persistence to achieve any level of fitness.  And, yes, to continue to make gains you need to continue to challenge your body.

I’ve heard women say to me, “I should have gotten fit when I was young” – meaning it’s too late for them now.  It isn’t.

We often want all the stars in alignment plus the pressures of work, family and study to settle down before we start something new or revise our old routines.  But is there an ideal time to start a new exercise habit?  No.

I read a Chinese proverb today which I absolutely love:

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.

Whatever you want to achieve, if you didn’t do it 20 years ago it doesn’t matter.  You can do it NOW!  The best time to start getting fit is right now, and the best exercise to get you started is whatever exercise you like to do and will do.

As Nike says, “just do it”!  Start this week.  Maybe start small and increase in the coming weeks and months.  Yes, you may have false starts and hiccups along the way but if you are persistent you will reach a higher level of fitness.

Start thinking about what you want to achieve – if you are starting from being unfit and doing no exercise, then check with your doctor first and based on her advice start by doing regular exercise. If you already do a bit of exercise, work on extending yourself.  Make an appointment to talk to an exercise professional to make sure what you are doing will achieve your goals.

When you are getting started by guided by the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines (for 18 to 64 year olds):

  • Exercise everyday.
  • Work up to 2 ½ – 5 hours of moderate exercise (you should be able to talk but move briskly) or 1 ¼ – 2 ½ hours of vigorous exercise (anything that makes you huff and puff) each week.
  • Do muscle strengthening activities twice a week (you can use your own body weight, dumb bells or a weight machine).
  • Try not to sit for long periods of time, get up and move around regularly.

So to recap:

  1. Check with your doctor to get the go ahead first.
  2. Work out what you like to do – walking, running, classes, team sports, swimming, weights, cross training…  There’s so much to choose from.
  3. Get started this week!
  4. Be guided by the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines for a start then see an exercise professional when you are ready to extend yourself.

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Post byDale Cooke

I'm a nutritionist, dietitian and personal trainer with 29 years of experience helping people improve their health. I really like using a non-diet philosophy to achieving a healthy lifestyle. Can I help you improve your health?