Your beginning fitness program

Anyone can get into better shape with a little effort, even you. And the good news is that you don’t need expensive equipment or a gym membership to get started (and you get to avoid those knowing looks of the fitness freaks working out harder than you can even dream of). All you need is time, and a certain amount of willpower.

First of all you need to decide on a time of day for your workout. Try to stick to the same time every day so that it becomes part of your routine. If you’re the sort who needs a lot of encouragement then train with a friend, otherwise start out alone and surprise your friends with your new fitness levels later on.

Start out gently. Do a few gentle stretches to loosen up – touch your toes (or as close as you can get without hurting), do some sideways leans and reach up as high as you can. You know the sort of thing. And then add a few gentle star jumps to get you warmed up.

Now we can get down to business. For an all round basic workout we will do just four exercises: push-ups, sit-ups, leg raises and burpees.

For the push-ups, lay flat on your stomach, toes on the floor and hands flat on the floor under your shoulders. Push up with your hands and raise your body and legs off the floor till your arms are straight. Slowly lower yourself down again (try not to rest on the floor) and repeat. If you can’t raise everything, don’t worry. Start off just raising your upper body. And if you need to rest between raises that’s fine too. Try to do five repetitions to start with.

Next are the sit-ups. Lay flat on your back with your feet under a sofa and your hands beside your ears. Now try to sit up by raising your shoulders until your back is vertical. Then lower yourself back down again. If you can’t get all the way up, just get as far as you can. Repeat five times. Make sure you don’t use your hands to pull your head up as this could hurt your neck.

For your leg raises, lay flat on your back with your arms tucked in at your side and the palms of your hands on the floor. Raise your feet about six inches off the floor, spread your legs, bring them back together and lower them again. Repeat five times.

Finish off this part of your program with some burpees. Begin by standing straight and then drop into a squat. Place your hands on the ground and extend your feet backwards so that you are in a push-up position. Immediately bring your legs back to the squat position and return to the original standing position. Repeat five times. Each burpee should be done in a single smooth action.

After a short rest, repeat the four exercises. As you become fitter increase the number of repetitions and, when you feel really good, add another full cycle. If you are tired but want to increase the number of cycles, remember that you can reduce the number of repetitions in the last cycle. I would aim at around fifteen repetitions of each exercise and three cycles.

Well, that’s your warm-up. Just kidding. Have a short break, congratulate yourself and then get your walking shoes on. Take a walk for about fifteen minutes. Don’t push yourself but try to move reasonably quickly. Start off on a flat circuit but if you can include a couple of hills so much the better. I’d avoid jogging at this stage because you can hurt yourself with shin splints and joint injuries.

There you have it; a reasonably simple exercise regime that will get you on the way to fitness. After a few weeks of this type of exercise, you should be ready for the next stage – if you want to take it further. Try your local gym. They will be able to give you an exercise course tailored to your needs and you know you will be able to take it on without embarrassment because you have already got yourself into better shape.

Please note a word of warning, however. If you haven’t exercised for a while, it is always wise to check with your doctor first. And, if you feel anything not quite right during or after your exercises, stop and call the doctor.