How to Start Exercising: 8 Steps!

Taking a before and after picture can help motivate you as you make progress - and to notice those changes that occur gradually.

The journey to a healthier lifestyle always begins with a single first step. It’s something that you’ll have in common with every fitness enthusiast you ever meet – we all had to take a first step. Perhaps the time is now for you to take yours.

But how do you truly start from scratch?

  1. Visit a doctor to make sure you have the green light to exercise. Ensure that you don’t have any restrictive conditions. If you do, ask the doctor for some guidance.
  2. Take a before picture. Changes are generally slow, and your eye may not perceive the differences. Take a picture so that you can compare yourself in 3 – 6 months. The changes will motivate you.
  3. Write three realistic goals for your body attached to specific dates. Maybe you want to drop 20 lbs by February 1. Be as specific as possible. Now you know where you would like to go – it’s just a matter of getting there.
  4. Identify three, 30-45 minute blocks of time in your schedule that you can dedicate to exercise in a week. It’s important to start small, so that you can adjust to change in your routine. It will also prevent you from overexerting yourself and burning out. Over time, we can increase the frequency or duration of your exercise commitment. Can’t find time? Make it. You don’t have time not to workout – so chop out TV time or the computer.
  5. Schedule those times and dates into your planner, iPhone, calendar, blackberry or whatever other device you may use. Treat this scheduled time with importance like your life depends on it – because it does.
  6. Decide if you will workout at home or at the gym. Either will work. If you decide on the gym, join one!
  7. Plan your three, 30-45 minute workouts. Your goals and current abilities will determine how you use your time, but remember that you’ll want to do two types of exercise: cardio and strength training. Cardio will make you sweat, and it includes walking, jogging, running, swimming, jumping rope or even doing jumping jacks. Strength training exercises work your muscles, and include weight machines, push-ups, pull-ups, free weights, etc. No matter what your goals are, you’ll want to include both cardio and strength training.Here’s an example workout: Warm-up jogging for 3 minutes; Stretch for 3 minutes; Moderate jogging for 10 minutes; Abs for 5 minutes; Triceps for 5 minutes; Push-ups for 5 minutes; Stretch for 3 minutes. Done! That would be a great example of what you could do on one of your days.
  8. Stick to it. Yes, perseverance is key. Since you’re only committing to a few sessions of exercise each way, it should be easier to make this a habit.

Over time, you may decide to expand the time or frequency of your exercise. Or you might find that your current plan isn’t helping you reach the goals that you outline – that’s okay. You’ve at least taken the first step. You may want to work with a personal trainer or do some research to figure out what you need to do differently.

Congratulations on having the resolve to make this change in your life!

And if you have any tips for beginners – or questions – please share them in the comments below!

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Bob Gentry says:

    I’m 61 and have had both hips replaced and i would like to get back in shape is there a low impact work out for me


    • Swimming is the most low impact and best cardio. If you don’t like swimming see if the stationary bicycle agrees with you.

    • Charley beat me to it! Yes, swimming is an amazing low-impact exercise. And you don’t have to do laps… you can practice treading water or – if you are ambitious – try taking a water aerobics class.

      • I have taken water aerobics classes before. I agree with Davey, they aren’t for the complete novice, but I took them right after I damaged my left knee, and it was so low impact that I could tolerate the whole workout.

  2. Hey Davey, thanks for these tips.
    Any advice on what you can do for home strength training if you don’t have access to weights? I can’t afford a gym and I’m trying to get back in shape. Been running on the local track, and doing sit and push ups in my living room. Problem areas are chest and love handles..
    Thanks much in advance!
    All the best,

  3. Great low impact cardio – the often forgotten rowing machine! Never having had my hips replaced, I can’t say for sure that this will be good for you, Bob, but there are a lot of inexpensive machines you can buy for your home if you don’t have a gym membership. There are also aquatic aerobic classes for folks who need very low impact/joint stress workouts.

    Great home exercises- back when I used to be in good shape (with no gym membership no less) I used to hit those Tae Bo workouts pretty hard, but in addition to that, I’d do push ups for the upper body, twisting (elbow to opposite knee) crunches for my core, and lunges for the lower body. I’d do these religiously, as a part of my “before bed” ritual (along with washing my face, brushing my teeth, etc.). If push-ups are tough, start by doing them on your knees, and work from there. I have a gimpy wrist so I can’t regularly put my full body weight (especially now lol) on it, but push-ups on my knees with my hands as fists (as opposed to open-palmed) worked great!

  4. I’ve just discovered your website (Thank you Youtube!!).
    I started swimming classes and today I bought a sit up bench. I tried going to the gym but I don’t like it at all!!
    I hope I can have the strength to deal with this new phase of my life. Wish me luck!
    (Sorry my english, I’m from Argentina)