How To Start Exercising When You’re Out Of Shape

3 women doing lunges in the gym. How to start exercising when you're out of shape

Starting an exercise program can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve been out of shape or inactive for a while. You might feel overwhelmed by the thought of getting back into a fitness routine or struggle with finding the motivation to start working out.

Additionally, there may be physical barriers such as a lack of muscle strength, flexibility, poor balance, or chronic pain that make it challenging to exercise. However, the benefits of regular exercise are numerous, from improved physical health to better mental well-being.

The good news is that with the right approach and fitness plan, anyone can start exercising and make progress toward their fitness goals.

In this article, we’ll explore tips and strategies on how to start exercising when you’re out of shape, including cardio and strength training exercises for beginners, warm-up routines, staying motivated, and tips for avoiding injury.

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain strength, or simply improve your overall health and well-being in life, these tips can help you get started with your fitness plan, and stay on track.

How To Start Exercising When You’re Out Of Shape

Woman resting on a guard-rail, while exercising. Focusing on Mindset


Before we even begin to dive into the specifics of exercise, it’s important to address the mental and emotional barriers that may be holding you back from getting started. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the idea of exercise, especially if you haven’t worked out in a while.

However, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to be in perfect shape to start exercising. In fact, exercise can help you improve your physical and mental health, boost your energy, and increase your confidence.

So the most important thing you can do is to just start moving.

Once you start moving more, you can then focus on setting realistic goals. Don’t try to do too much too soon, as this can lead to burnout or injury. Instead, focus on small, achievable goals such as walking for 10 minutes a day or doing a few bodyweight exercises at home.

Once you’ve established a great fitness routine and feel more comfortable with exercising, you can gradually start to increase the intensity and duration of your workouts, helping you to burn more calories and lose weight.


Starting an exercise program can be difficult, but staying motivated to exercise regularly can be even harder. That’s why it’s important to find activities you enjoy and fit into your lifestyle. If your exercise routine is not enjoyable, then it’s unlikely that you’ll continue doing it long-term.

For example, if you hate going to the gym, try outdoor activities such as hiking or cycling. If you prefer to exercise indoors, consider working out in your own home or attending a couple of fun fitness classes at your local gym.

Finding that happy medium can either keep you motivated or unmotivated. This is why it’s important to explore different types of exercises until you find something that you genuinely enjoy doing.

Set realistic goals for yourself and celebrate your progress along the way. Find an exercise buddy or join a fitness community to keep you accountable and motivated.

Overcoming Physical Barriers

Physical barriers such as chronic pain or mobility issues can make it difficult to exercise. However, there are ways to overcome these barriers.

Work with a physical therapist or personal trainer to develop a safe and effective exercise program that meets your fitness levels. Consider low-impact exercises such as swimming or yoga, and don’t be afraid to modify exercises or workouts to accommodate any physical limitations you may have.

Exercises To Consider When You Feel Out Of Shape

Woman doing a body weight exercise ( plank)

Cardio Training

If you’re new to exercise, or in this case, haven’t worked out in a while, it’s important to start slowly and build up gradually. This can help prevent injury and ensure that you’re able to stick with your routine for a period of time.

A few exercises that you can consider if you want to get back into shape include low-impact cardio exercises such as walking, swimming, or cycling.

These activities are gentle on your joints and can help improve your cardiovascular health, which has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and/or conditions, reduce stress, help with weight loss, increase stamina, and blood circulation, and so much more.

You can easily start exercising regularly by implementing a great cardio workout into your weekly routine.

Resistance Training

Resistance training is another important and key component of any exercise program. It helps build muscle and improve bone density, which can help prevent age-related injuries and conditions such as osteoporosis and help with metabolic conditions such as diabetes.

If you’re new to strength training, start with bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, and push-ups. These exercises use your own bodyweight as resistance and can be done anywhere, without any equipment.

As you become more comfortable with these exercises, you can add resistance bands or dumbbells to increase the challenge. In addition, you can always seek help from a personal trainer if you want to take your training to the next level.

Pre and Post Exercise Routine

Woman jumping rope in her home. Doing a warm up exercise


Warming up before any workout is essential to prepare your body for physical activity and to prevent injuries.

A good warm-up routine should increase your heart rate, warm up your muscles, and improve your range of motion. Your warm-up should be between five to ten minutes and can include cardio, such as speed walking, jogging in place, or jumping jacks. This will increase your heart rate and warm up your body temperature.

Once your heart rate is elevated, you can move on to dynamic stretches that target the muscles you will be using during your workout, to help improve flexibility and range of motion.

In addition to stretching, incorporating mobility exercises before each workout can help improve joint mobility and stability, and help prepare your body for the movements you will be doing during your workout.

Taking the time to properly warm up can help prevent injuries and improve performance during your workout.

If you’re not sure where to start with your warm-up routine, consider working with a certified personal trainer or fitness professional who can help you create a personalized warm-up routine that fits your needs and fitness level.

Cool Down

A cool-down is an essential component of any exercise routine, yet it is often overlooked. A cool-down involves performing light exercises and stretches after your workout to gradually reduce your heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature back to their pre-exercise levels.

Cooling down after a workout aids in recovery by gradually decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, a cool-down can help reduce muscle soreness and stiffness, as well as prevent the buildup of lactic acid, which can cause muscle fatigue and soreness.

It’s also important to take your time during your cool-down and not rush through it. Aim to spend at least 2-5 minutes gradually decreasing the intensity of your workout, before completely stopping and stretching.

Rest Day

Implementing a sufficient amount of rest days throughout your workout routine allows you to reap all the benefits of exercise. Rest days are just as important as workout days because, during your rest days, your body is able to recover and repair damaged tissue cells and depleted energy stores.

It’s important to listen to your body and give it the time it needs to rest and recover, especially when you’re just starting an exercise program or if you’ve been away from fitness for a while.

Rest days can help prevent injuries caused by overuse and can also help prevent burnout, both physically and mentally. In addition to rest days, it’s important to prioritize sleep as part of your overall routine.

Getting enough quality sleep is essential for muscle recovery, hormone regulation, and mental health. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and consider implementing a consistent bedtime routine to help improve your sleep quality.

Rest days are a crucial component of any exercise program, as they allow your body to rest, recover, and repair itself. So don’t neglect your rest days and remember to listen to your body’s needs.

Tracking Your Progress

Tracking your progress can help you stay motivated and see how far you’ve come. Keep a record of your workouts, including the type of exercise, duration, and intensity. Take measurements and photos to track changes in your body composition.

Celebrate your successes and don’t be too hard on yourself if you have setbacks. Remember that progress is not always linear, and every step forward is a step in the right direction.

Avoiding Injury

Injuries can happen to anyone, but there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. Always warm up properly before exercise, don’t push yourself too hard or too fast, and rest when you need to.

Wear proper footwear and clothing that allows for comfortable movement. If you’re unsure about proper form or technique, work with a trainer or physical therapist.

Final Thoughts

Starting an exercise program when you’re out of shape can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. With the right mindset, approach, guidance, and only a few minutes a day, you can improve your physical and mental health and feel better in your body.

Remember to set realistic goals, start slowly, warm up properly, and find activities that you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or a personal trainer for help, to modify exercises to meet your specific needs.

With time and consistency, you’ll see the results you’re looking for. I hope this information was helpful.

Happy exercising!

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