If you're starting from zero, any first steps, no matter how few, are steps to a healthier, happier you.Regular aerobic exercise will not only help you lose weight and improve cardiovascular health, it will also help reduce stress, boost your energy levels and instill a sense of overall well-being.
Before beginning an exercise program, you should check with your doctor. You want to make sure you don't have any health issues when you start. Knowing you've ruled out potential medical problems will help you start with confidence!
Overcoming mental hurdles--fears about being too out of shape or too slow--is the hardest part of getting started, says Jonathan Cane, a running coach for Brooklyn-based JackRabbit athletics store. "When we have meetings for prospective participants in the beginner running program, I ask the group, 'Who's afraid they'll be the slowest?' Inevitably, half of them raise their hands. My response is, 'You can't all be right, and who cares if you are?' " It helps beginners to see that others are just as self-conscious as they are and that they share the same doubts about whether they can become "runners," Cane explains.
Mental hurdles can be more overwhelming than physical ones. Molnar says many women new to running are discouraged by preconceived notions of what a runner should look like. They feel they could never be a runner because they don't fit the stereotype. "Not everyone is super fit," says Molnar. "Runners come from all walks of life, sizes, shapes and colors." Oprah Winfrey, for example, inspired thousands of women after she finished her first marathon.
If you have doubts, stand along the sidelines of any local 5K and observe the wide range of women who participate. You'll see teenagers and grandmothers, women from sizes petite to plus.
Having a support system, whether it's a friend, family or running club, can make training less daunting and ultimately more rewarding. Fraser says Team in Training is successful because people find motivation in groups. "You're there to reach your goal and help others get through it."
Molnar adds that meeting new people with similar interests helps keep motivation high and making a commitment to a group makes you feel more accountable. To find a group, she recommends tapping into your community. "Most local YMCAs will have a walking or running program, as will local running stores. Many charity races like Race for the Cure also have team training programs."
Interested in finding a local race near you? Local Activities >>
Interested in renting a bike? Learn More >>
Eat Well. Move Well. Live Well.