What’s the Biggest Mistake People Make When Starting a Fitness Program?

“Getting in shape” is a popular New Year’s resolution, but many people go at it the wrong way.

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Starting too fast. It may have taken you 20 years to lose your conditioning, and yet you want to take 20 days to get it back. That approach can be dangerous, particularly for those 40 and older, and may result in major medical problems, both musculoskeletal and cardiovascular. Remember, the older you are, the faster you will lose your fitness and the longer it will take you to get back into shape. In younger people, under 40, it is just the reverse.

If you have been off for six weeks or longer, it should take at least six weeks to get back to your original state of fitness. Shorter periods of being off require less time. A good guideline is one week of retraining for the number of weeks you were off. Of course, these times are primarily for those 40 and older. People under 40 should require approximately half the time.

If you were jogging/running, start back with walking, as laid out in the chart below. With other activities, slowly increase the level and intensity as you slowly improve your fitness.

Jogging/Running 2.0 mile in 20:00 Before Layoff
Week Activity Distance (miles) Time (min) Freq/Week
1 Walk 2.0 30:00 3-5 x
2 Walk/Jog 2.0 28:00 3-5 x
3 Jog 2.0 26:00 3-5 x
4 Jog 2.0 24:00 3-5 x
5 Jog/Run 2.0 22:00 3-5 x
6 Jog/Run 2.0 20:00 3-5 x

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