The dictionary definition of exercise is:

‘Activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness’.

Or in more understandable English: improving your heart and lung power.

There are four major steps I would urge you to take before exercising properly:

Firstly, consult your doctor and get a check up; tell them you intend to start exercising consistently and listen to their opinion on whether your body is in a condition to start.

Secondly, set yourself a target – even if its a vague one – as this will help us both to give you the best results possible.

For example:

Thirdly, try to ask yourself why you want to achieve this.

Here are some popular reasons:

Whatever the reason you are going to start – exercising is the best decision you will ever make! Whatever your current condition I urge you to start exercising if you’re not doing so already.

Finally, assess where you are physically and choose the best way to progress towards your chosen goal. You need to pick the impact and the intensity that best suits your current level of fitness to start off – if unsure ask a doctor or specialist.

Low impact and less demanding styles of exercise may include:

High impact and more demanding types of exercise may include:

If you’re feeling unsure about starting an exercise plan, try a fairly long walk – and just see how it goes. Once you have built up to a 3-mile long walk then I’d say you’re good to buy a pair of trainers and start jogging!

If you know of any joint problems you may have, especially hip, knee, or ankle, then jogging isn’t the best choice due to the impacts and stress exerted. In this case, you should probably look at low-impact exercise such as cycling, swimming, yoga or Pilates. You could also join a gym and make use of the cardio equipment; rowing machines, elliptical trainers and bikes are all low impact.

Weight training is a great way to get in shape too and is also becoming very popular with women. It’s important to start with the weight machines before moving on to free weights as it is much easier to keep the correct form. When joining a gym, be sure to get a thorough induction about how to use all of the equipment.

If you want to further progress onto free weights, I would strongly suggest paying a personal trainer to guide you. Bad technique can cause lots of problems and sometimes leads to injury, which can stop you from achieving your goals and possibly even knock you back further than when you started. A good PT can write you a plan based on your goals and show you how to get there safely and effectively. It is not necessary to spend a fortune on this. However, if you have money to spare, then I strongly suggest training with a PT twice a week at the start before moving up to 3 or 4 times a week. This will be your quickest path to the results you desire. A PT will also be able to give advice on diets, supplements and lifestyle changes – even your mind-set.

If you have a personal trainer, it is important to put the work in yourself and listen to their advice – particularly with constant and consistent commitment.

In order to keep going towards your goals you’re going to have to start working out of your comfort zone. The body will not change if it can manage a task with ease; it has to be challenged in order for it to realise it’s not able to perform the task well. This is when its forced to improve.

Ways of making you exercise harder might include:

Slow progress is best to avoid injury, so don’t go crazy and try to lose 3 stone in one exercise session. One trip to the gym will not make you thin and one bad meal will not make you fat. See this as a long-term positive lifestyle change that will be hugely beneficial.

The benefits of safe exercise and slow steady progression are:

Exercise, if done correctly, is without any doubt the best thing you can ever do for yourself and your loved ones.

Good luck!