7 Tips: How to Start an Exercise Program the Right Way

Yoga stretch for new workout program

CrossFit, yoga, pilates, weight-lifting, running, biking, kickboxing, playing sports, and a multitude of other activities have significant benefits for the body, allow for socialization, and can be a lot of fun too. However, all physical activity has a risk of injury, but there are ways to prepare and help decrease the chances of injury as you start an exercise program or new sport.  A common area of injury is the lower back, knees, ankles, wrists, shoulder, and elbows.

Woman holds leg

Here is a list of considerations as you embark on a fitness program to avoid injury and progress towards your fitness goals.

  1. Outline your fitness goals and a timeline for those goals—work towards making achievable and realistic goals. Remember, the purpose is to progress towards those goals. Once those goals are reached, make new goals.
  2. Start off respecting the limits of your body and focus on proper technique and form for each exercise. Perform with minimal weight and/or resistance for 2-4 weeks to focus on learning the appropriate form and method of the movement rather than trying to set a personal record in the first week. As your body remembers the proper process for each exercise/activity, it is appropriate to find that “initial fitness level.”
  3. There are no stupid questions. It is better to ask and get the answer than guess and have the wrong answer.  This could lead to possible injury if an activity is performed incorrectly for an extended period.
  4. Enjoy your activity. If you do not enjoy what you are doing, it is easy to not do it, so try different types of exercise if you have not found “your” routine yet.
  5. Rest and recovery of 1-2 days is not a bad thing. As you add a new activity or exercise program to your regime, there will be muscle soreness, which is normal. This soreness should resolve in 1-2 days. Having multiple different activities available will allow you to work different muscle groups if you are very sore in certain areas.
  6. Try different locations as not all gyms/activities offer the same environment, and it is essential that you find a location/activity that suits you and your needs.
  7. Know how to find your age-determined max heart rate. It is your current age – 220 = age-specific max heart rate

Workout plan notebook with daily entries.

Should you find yourself with an injury or a nagging pain that will not subside, seek a medical professional’s advice. ProActive Physical Therapy is committed to working to the recovery and progression of your goals. If there are bumps, bruises, pain, or weakness that do not improve over a 2-week time frame, contact one of our clinics to assess the condition to prevent a minor injury or irritation from becoming a more significant problem.

Go out, enjoy what makes you happy and have fun with whatever endeavor you choose.

Jason Sweet


ProActive Physical Therapy is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).