We asked our fitness experts to put together a compact list of do’s and don’ts for all beginners to follow. So, for those of you who have made the healthy decision to get off the couch and start exercising, we say Bravo! You have taken the first step towards a healthier mind, body and spirit.

A series of questions, doubts will slide through your head… How long should I train? Do I need to exercise every day? So we’ve put together this basic list to get you on the right track. Just apply these basic do’s and don’ts to your exercise regimen and get yourself off to a great start in this new way of life.

1. easy does it

Most experts say that for beginners, it’s good to start with 2/3 days a week and for at least 30 minutes per session. You can then gradually increase from there. Don’t start with a difficult daily regimen: easy does it! Start with 30 minutes of cardio 2/3 times a week and strength training once a week. Continue this for two to three months until this regimen becomes an integral part of your daily routine.

two. warm up and stretch

Always, always, warm up first. Take your body through basic movements that will loosen and stretch your muscles. This will ensure that your body functions at an optimal level, and more importantly, prevent injury problems.

3. Do not follow the same set of exercises

This is a common mistake that many beginners make. Don’t stick to the same set of exercises every day. Mingle. Alternate between the 3 main types of exercise: aerobic, anaerobic and flexibility.

Aerobic exercise is exercise that requires the use of oxygen to fuel the body for the demands of exercise. This form of exercise is traditionally thought of as cardiovascular exercise, like running on a treadmill or riding a bike. Anaerobic exercise is a form of exercise that requires glucose for short, intense workloads. Strength training and sprinting are forms of anaerobic exercise.

Four. Weight training

The great thing about basic bodyweight training for beginners is that as a beginner you can train from anywhere, even from home. You can even start exercising at home with just a basic exercise band. There are excellent YouTube videos with basic exercises with exercise bands. All you have to do is choose and follow one of the top rated videos.

Dumbbells are another great way to start basic weight training. Compared to free weights, dumbbells seem much less intimidating to beginners. Dumbbells also have an added stabilization challenge and point out muscle imbalances quite easily. For those who want to start weight training with a little more intensity, dumbbells are definitely the way to go. If your goal is strength above all else, this is the option we recommend. Weights allow you to progress clearly and quickly, allowing you to add small increments of weight each week.

5. Give your body adequate recovery time

Take a break, periodically. No bread, no profit. So if you feel like your body aches during the initial stages after you start exercising, well, that’s a good sign—you’re on the right track. But don’t make the mistake of going all out and not giving your body adequate time to heal and recover. Also avoid taking painkillers as they only mask the pain. The best way forward is to let your body recover naturally.

If you don’t give your body time to heal and repair itself, your performance will decline and you will enter a vicious cycle where you will never fully recover. And if it hurts after you exercise, that’s fine (unless it hurts too much). Don’t rush to grab a pain reliever, because that can mask the pain and cause you to do real damage to your body. Let yourself recover naturally.

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