Exercise Tip: Start Slow and Mix it Up


The slower pace will finish the race!

One of the most important tips I can give you about starting slow.  If you start out from more sedentary or mild activity to level and try to go heavy or high-intensity exercise, you will likely either be unsuccessful or end in injury.  As you increase the intensity, do so slowly.  Do the same with distance, duration, and impact.


“To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first.”

~William Shakespeare

Key points:

  • Type of Exercise:  Pick an exercise you can continue.  Cycling might be attractive to you, but it is not a realistic long-term exercise if you can only do it once a month.  Weight loss and management is a long game meaning that you must continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle or you will lose your health and gain the weight back.  
  • Distance: Pick a distance that you can comfortably perform and add distance to it slowly.   Eventually, you will be able to walk 5-10 miles a day.   Duration and distance are tightly entertained.  I recommend that you focus on duration and not distance.    Thirty minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise 5 days a week is the goal, but why stop there.  
  • Duration:  I started with 30 minutes was only able to do 2 miles.  I slowly increased the intensity and now I now can walk 4.5 miles in an hour. If you want to run a 5-kilometer walk of jogs and you spent the last ten years on the couch eating potato chips and bonbons, it si not wise to start with 5 kilometers.  Star with what you can do comfortably and add 5-10 minutes a week until you get to 5 kilometers.    Eventually, you will be able to 5 kilometers faster and faster or add more distance to it.  
  • Intensity: I recommend that you increase this naturally.  Walk so you can talk without being winded and then increase the pace but slow when you are winded.  This is your body’s signal that you might not be fit enough to keep up that pace.  Push yourself but do it slowly.  
  • Impact:  This is a measure of how hard you hit.  I recommend that you start with a low impact.  You can increase this if you so desire slowly.  If you have axial (spine) or lower extremity arthritis, think about staying low to mid-level impact.  An example of impact levels is walking, jogging, and running from lowest to highest.  
  • Mix it up:  Don’t do just one exercise.  Weight loss success is built on a diversity of exercise.  Add weights, team sports, treadmill, elliptical, and stairclimber to walking outdoors.  This way you will not become bored and have options in inclement weather.  

The bottom line: Start slow and build success. Don’t become discouraged, and just keep plugging away.  Rushing to a higher level will rush to failure. Good luck!

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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