How to Start a Fitness Plan

From the WebMD Archives

You’re ready to get fit. That’s great! First, do a little planning to come up with the activities that will be fun and fit into your life. 

Start by asking yourself these four simple questions.

1. Where Do I Want to Work Out?

Figure out what setting appeals to you most, says New York cardiologist Merle Myerson, MD. Do you want to exercise outdoors or inside?

Depending on where you live, you might be able to walk, run, bike, swim, or ski outdoors. Even gardening can count, as long as you’re working hard enough so you perspire a little, says Bradley Bale, MD, medical director of the Heart Health Program for Grace Clinic in Lubbock, Texas.

On the other hand, you could exercise indoors at a gym or specialty fitness studio, in your home, at a community center, or even a mall (they often open early to let people walk).

2. What's Convenient?

If you join a gym, make sure it’s nearby, so you’ll be more likely to go there. Signing up for a class? Check that you’ll have plenty of time to get there after work or with your other commitments. You want to cut out as many obstacles as possible.

3. By Yourself or With Others?

Think about whether you're more comfortable on your own or with a group. “Groups can help make time go by and [help you stick] to an exercise program,” Myerson says.

To find exercise buddies, check out fitness, yoga, or dance classes in your area. Join a club, like those for walkers, runners, or cyclists. You could also post a notice at your work, neighborhood, or community center to find a partner. Or just ask a friend or two to exercise with you.

4. What Would Be Fun?

The more you enjoy it, the better.

You've probably heard the advice to go back to something you loved as a kid. That can work. Or step out of your comfort zone and try a sport or other activity you've always wanted to try. You can also sample DVDs or online fitness videos before you buy them to see what you like. 

Play the field. Come up with lots of options and switch between activities. You won't get bored, so you'll want to keep it up.


What to Do if You're Stumped

Keep things simple and take the first step today.

“Walking is convenient, doesn’t require equipment, and for the majority of people, doesn’t create undue stress on the knees, hips, or ankles,” Oregon cardiologist James Beckerman, MD, says.

Or you can choose other exercises that are easy your body, Myerson says. For instance, use an elliptical trainer at your gym, ride a bike, or take water aerobics class.

Take baby steps. In time, Beckerman says, being active will become as routine for you as brushing your teeth. You may even surprise yourself and look forward to your new hobby. If not, keep trying new activities until you find something that clicks.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 6, 2015



Bradley Bale, MD, medical director, Heart Health Program for Grace Clinic, Lubbock, TX; co-author, Beat the Heart Attack Gene: The Revolutionary Plan to Prevent Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes, Wiley, 2014.

James Beckerman, MD, cardiologist; medical director, Play Smart Youth Heart Screenings, Providence St. Vincent Heart Clinic Cardiology, Portland, OR.

Merle Myerson, MD, EdD, cardiologist; director, Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals, New York.

© 2014 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


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