An Expert's Advice on How to Ease into an Active Routine

Woman tying her shoes in a gym

by Katie Ferraro

So, you’re ready to make a habit of adding more activity in your day or even committing to a new workout routine. Congratulations! You’ve already accomplished the hardest part of developing a routine — the choice to do so. 

Though actually getting started can feel overwhelming. Creating the perfect workout or adding activities to your day that will keep you moving doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s all about committing to the long game.

Starting Small

While it may be tempting to change everything all at once, I would advise against it. It’s too much pressure to put on yourself. When I’m coaching clients in this position (I’m a certified group fitness trainer with a love of crossfit), I start by recommending keeping it simple. 

An easy way to get the ball rolling is to commit to taking a 20- to 30-minute stroll outside during lunch, if possible. And this doesn’t just give you the opportunity to get away from your work to regroup and reset. Studies have shown great benefits in improving mood and combating the stress accumulated throughout the day from this practice. You’ll earn bonus points if you encourage a friend or coworker to join you. And leave your phones behind!

Simple, perfectly feasible additions to your fitness routine, activities like walking, taking the stairs and parking a little farther than you normally would, can make a huge difference in the overall activity level in your life. This can also be achieved by using the Pomodoro Technique: breaking up your day into 25-minute intervals, with 5 minutes in between. While not long enough for a walk, this can encourage you to take stretch breaks throughout your day, too.

Finding Your Perfect Workout Routine

You’ve successfully added lunchtime activity to your daily routine and maybe some stretch breaks, but now you’re ready to level up. It’s time to find a workout routine you love. Finding something sustainable that you’ll actually enjoy doing is so important, because you are much more likely to stick with it this way. Maybe you already know you love dance, or yoga, or running and want to start there. Great!

Or, maybe you have no idea what the perfect workout is for you. That’s okay, too! Group fitness is a great option, because the camaraderie and “we’re all in this together” mentality can help to keep you accountable (so can the cost!). ClassPass is a great option that allows you to test out different types of classes to see what works best for you (and, you can try it for free for two weeks). They have digital options, too!

How to Make a Workout Plan

Once you’ve found something that works for you, it’s time to make a plan. Lifestyle issues such as work, family and social schedules are important considerations here. I generally recommend getting started with morning workouts to get them out of the way, give you energy to start your day, and, most importantly, begin it with a win in the accomplishments column. As far as frequency: to start, three days a week seems to be the sweet spot for most.

Another thing to consider when making your workout plan is moderate vs. vigorous exercise. The easiest way to determine intensity is whether or not you can carry on a conversation while exercising. If you can, you’re likely engaging in a moderate workout. If you can only get a few words out at a time, you’re in vigorous workout mode. Not everything you do needs to be a vigorous workout for you to reap the benefits. Remember that!

Focus on Recovery

Allowing your body to recover may be more important than your actual workout routine. It goes back to the adage, “listen to your body,” and it’s so true. Especially for those just getting started on their active lifestyle journey, sore muscles may become your new normal. Drinking a lot of water to flush toxins from your body and investing in compression socks to encourage better blood flow are small things that can lead to large improvements. 

The more you focus on recovery and taking care of your body, the better equipped you’ll be to stick to your goals. Set yourself up for success — you’ll thank yourself for it later!

Katie Ferraro is a writer and group fitness trainer in Los Angeles. When she’s not writing or at the gym, you’ll find her somewhere in the wilderness camping, hiking or backpacking.


The Benefits of a Lunch Hour Walk (New York Times)

Take it From Someone Who Hates Productivity Hacks — the Pomodoro Technique Actually Works

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