8 Tips for Starting an Exercise Program

Patrick Dunham's picture
By Patrick Dunham on September 1, 2020

Starting an exercise program might seem like a daunting task. You might have been thinking about it for a while…now is the time to take charge and actually do it!
If you mention to someone that you are thinking about starting to exercise, you will most likely be given lots of advice about what you should do and how you should do it. 
There are a ton of nutrition and exercise trends, and figuring out what’s right for you can be overwhelming and confusing. But starting an exercise program doesn’t have to be stressful.
To help you get started, it can help to spend some time thinking about the new lifestyle you’re getting ready to begin. Here are seven questions to ask yourself to help you get going in the right direction.

1. Why are you doing this?

Sit yourself down and think for 5-10 minutes about why you want to exercise. Go to a quiet place with no distractions and really think about it.

Is the reason your health? Your physical appearance? To start a new adventure?

2. What made you want to start?

Again, give yourself some time to think about this one. Did you watch a sporting event or a commercial, or hear a friend talk about an activity that made you think about trying it yourself?

3. What do you enjoy?

Make a list of the types of things you enjoy doing and what types of physical activity interest you.

Along with what you’ve thought about in tips no. 1 and  no. 2, write this down on paper and store in place you will see it often.

This can help you keep your focus.

4. How do you need to prepare?

Look into what activity you want to do and what you’ll need to begin safely. Do you want to start with walking? You might need a new pair of good-quality shoes.

Do you want to try something adventurous outdoors? You may want to take a lesson or seek out someone who is involved in the activity and can give you tips. 

5. Who is your support system? 

A strong support system plays a vital role in helping encourage you to stay on track. It can be family members or friends or even people you do your new activity with—anyone who will encourage you to do your best and stick with it!

6. What questions do you have?

Get experienced, qualified help if you need help or more information. If you have health conditions and need nutrition advice, meet with a registered dietitian.

If you have strength training or performance questions, ask a trainer.

7. How will you find out more?

Do research on things that interest you. Check legitimate sources to be sure you’re not being misinformed.

Medical journals and clinical research is abundant online, and many studies can be accessed by nearly anyone. 

8. Where’s your comfort zone?

Step out of it! Try different forms of physical activity—you might just find something new that you really enjoy.


Patrick Dunham is the clinical training manager for Carilion Wellness. See their free video workout series at: Staying Well with Carilion Wellness.