Self-help books, wellness articles, your doctor: they're all advocating regular exercise, but a lot of the time it stops there. When it comes to picking a program you're left high and dry, and one google search can leave you even more confused than when you started. It can be difficult to know where and when you should start, and which program is best.
The good news: There are tons of free resources out there designed to help you get started if you know where to look. When it comes to the right program for you, that's going to take a little reflection, discovery, and possibly some guidance from your physician. Ultimately, what's important is finding something that realistically fits your lifestyle, and something you're not going to hate getting up for.
What Makes a Great Program?
We've included a few of our favorite programs from around the web as a starting place, but these are just a few of literally thousands of options. To narrow down our list, we looked for programs that met the following criteria:
Free to get started: Each program, with the exception of one, doesn’t require any equipment to get started, and can be found online for free as well. Some of the programs do have exclusive-paid features, but these are optional.
Variety: We included options so you can pick a program based on your specific fitness goals. Before just jumping into one however, it’s a good idea to think on what your overall fitness goals are.
Scalability: One of the most important aspects of fitness is finding a routine that can grow with you. Each of the programs listed below will give you a solid foundation, but also include steps for moving forward.
*Disclaimer see your doctor before starting a new program
Our 5 Favorite Workout Programs for Beginners
Yoga with Kassandra (Youtube): Perfect for yoga newbies and veterans alike! Kassandra has videos ranging from 10 minutes to 1 hour. You can do these every day if you want; just remember, stretching shouldn’t ever be painful, so don’t overextend yourself.
The Couch to 5k Running Program (Blog, App): A program that hardly needs a description. It's been around for a while and for good reason: It's built for those starting completely from scratch (week one starts off with just 60 seconds of light jogging). They've recently launched a $2.99 app, but you can also find the PDF with a little googling.
The Bodyweight Fitness Recommended Routine (Reddit Community): A great strength program that can be started with little or no equipment. It focuses on bodyweight movements you're probably already familiar with, like pushups and squats, and comes with the support of the entire bodyweight fitness community on reddit.
Stronglifts 5x5 Weight Training (Blog, App): You'll need access to gym equipment for this program, but it offers some great foundations for those wanting to explore weight training. It focuses completely on compound movements (moves that work multiple muscle groups at one time), and has great instructions for improving week by week.
Tai Chi 5 Minutes a Day (Youtube): While Tai Chi has a range of applications, we included it because it's specifically great for older practitioners or anyone with mobility issues. In addition to being a fantastic low-impact exercise, it may also improve balance and even cognitive function.
Bonus: Starting to Stretch (Youtube):
A great program on it's own, but also a great addition to any program. You can follow along 2-3 times a week. It should take around 30 minutes, but if you have time constraints, you can switch between upper and lower body each session.
When you decide to make a lifestyle adjustment, it can be tempting to jump into a new routine unprepared. However, your body needs time to get used to an active lifestyle.
If you don't warm up, stretch, and listen to pain indicators, you run the risk of hurting your body and disrupting your workout goals. Stay in the game by researching your activity before starting and take the right preparation measures.
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Already feeling inspired? Check out Thrive Journal; it takes less than 5-10 minutes a day, and each page is deliberately crafted to help make you stronger, both mentally and physically.