We wanted to share a few tips with you that we thought would be helpful for those of you who are wanting to start exercising.
Exercise Advice for Beginners
- Find an exercise you enjoy
You want to find a form of exercise that can be a fun activity and an outlet for stress, not something you dread. This gives you the best chance to make this into a long-term habit, which is important since most health benefits will be from continuing your exercise over an extended period of time. This may take trying out different modalities and giving it at least a couple weeks to see if you enjoy it.
- Find a community
Having people that you know who are also involved in the activity can bring more enjoyment and help keep you accountable to stick with your exercise. This may be bringing along family members, friends, coworkers, or just building connections with others already out there at the gym/trails/classes/etc. This way you’re not completely alone in taking on a new endeavor.
- Short-term and Long-term goals
Many of us get started having big long-term goals, envisioning the drastic improvements we will make. But its easy to get lost and unmotivated when the finish line is far away. Having short term goals can give you something to strive for more immediately and give you small wins along the way. Such as, if you wanted to run a marathon in one year from now you can give yourself incremental distance and time goals to accomplish every month.
Exercise Nutrition Advice for Beginners
- Focus on consuming a high-quality diet.
The keys to a high-quality diet include a balance of different foods containing high concentrations of a variety of nutrients. This will optimizing your body weight and increasing your chances of maximizing your endurance performance.
A high-quality diet consists of eating whole, minimally processed foods. Focus on filling your plate with a variety of different food groups and a variety of different colors. The foundation of your diet should include both lean animal and plant proteins. Also include carbohydrate rich foods like whole grains, starchy vegetables, and fresh fruits. Lastly, an abundance of fresh non-starchy vegetables will reduce inflammation in the body and help you recover from workouts.
- Properly fuel for exercise.
Carbohydrates are a critical energy source for exercise. This can be in the form of sports drinks, bars, gels or even real food like bananas and dates. If your muscles are inadequately fueled, it can lead to fatigue, poor performance, and may put you at greater risk of injury.
- Make hydration a Priority
It’s very important that you’re properly hydrated for your training and racing. Fluid intake during endurance events will help to regulate your body temperature and optimize blood flow.
- Practice your nutrition before Competition
Practice your race day nutrition at least two months out from the race. On your long runs, practice what you plan to eat the morning of the race and what you plan to use during the race. By practicing your race day nutrition, you will find out what your body can tolerate and cannot tolerate. Additionally, try to find out what nutrition products will be offered at the aid stations.
Keep in mind that finding what works for you may take some trial and error but hopefully if you apply these tips, you will be ensuring you’re properly fueled for your training and racing.
The information provided herein is considered educational. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.
Daniel Cooley, DO: Family medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center. I am passionate about helping people find fun and sustainable ways to stay active and healthy.
John Massengale: Registered Dietitian and a certified diabetes care and education specialist at Baylor Scott & White Family Medicine in Fort Worth. I’m also an endurance athlete and a current member of the Cowtown Trailblazer running group.