Now that you have a better understanding of your body, you realize that not everyone can run a four minute mile. Not everyone can bench press 300 pounds. Not everyone can swim five miles straight. If you are one of these people that can, then give yourself a high five. If you cannot do these things, then also give yourself a high five because you are on the way to finding out the awesome things your body can do. Your body can do things that a four-minute-mile runner’s body can’t. What we are going to do is find the right exercise for you and your body that you can enjoy doing and become great at.

One of the most important things is to continue with your body positivity. Just because you are trying to change does not mean you love your body any less. Sometimes change proves that you love your body more because you are treating it better and want it to stay around longer. Keep in mind the things you love about your body and watch your efforts accentuate them. Maybe you love your thick legs. After several weeks of lifting your legs, you can get excited about your quad and calf definition. Look for the new things to love about your body. Maybe you have always liked your slim arms. Start loving your lean muscle bulk after a couple months of weight lifting.

Now, getting active takes a bit of consideration before you begin. The last thing I want you to do is to jump into your spandex and go for a fifteen mile run around your city because you have heard of your friends or coworkers doing that to get active. You could hurt your body or start to feel that getting active is not for you. Everyone can get active. The trick is finding out how your body prefers to do it. Your type of activity is probably not the same as your mom’s or your fifteen-year-old neighbor’s.

The fun thing about exercising is that there are so many ways to do it. It never has to be boring or monotonous because there are numerous different activities to try. Below is a list of common ways of exercising with a brief description, what it does for your body, and some tips. Ways of exercising spread far beyond this list. However, if you are a beginner, try a common exercise first. Choose one that you think that your body can handle well and that you will enjoy. The first step to beginning to exercise is to begin to love it!



Whether it be on the treadmill or through the park, running is a great source of cardio and one of the best ways to burn fat. If you are looking to lose weight, cardio is the way to go. If you are just starting out, run at a moderate pace for shorter intervals of time. Consider taking water breaks in between running intervals to stay hydrated and to bring you heart rate down before taking it right back up again on your next interval.

When running becomes more comfortable, you will be able to run for long periods of time without stopping. You will want to continue running in intervals by increasing and decreasing speeds. This will keep your heart rate moving up and down and will burn more fat by continuously switching things up on your body. Running also has a way of toning your entire legs with lean muscle the way that targeting one single leg muscle cannot.

Beware of running on cement and asphalt. These are extremely high impact surfaces that can cause pain or injury to your joints and bones. Run on grass or other soft surfaces whenever possible.


Zumba, Getting Active
source: Zumba with Megan


Dance exercises are becoming increasingly popular. They implement various cardio moves and keep your heart rate up. Dancing to music can be more fun and appealing than running. Zumba is great for beginning exercisers or those that wish to maintain a slim figure. Zumba will not get you muscle, so switch up this with other weight lifting exercises if muscle is part of your goal.


Yoga, Getting Active
source: Core Power Yoga


Yoga is one of my favorite exercises. Yoga helps with flexibility and maintaining muscle stability. There are several different types of yoga aside from the standard stretching and posing classes. There’s hot yoga that helps cleanse your body of toxins. There’s cardio incorporated into yoga classes that keep you moving nonstop from pose to pose and burning an incredible amount of calories. (Cardio hot yoga will leave you sweatier than you have ever been before.) There’s yoga sculpt classes that incorporate weight training into the poses and get you some muscle definition.

The standard yoga posing classes are great for beginning exercisers and will get your muscles perfectly prepped for your exercising journey. After some time, get into the more challenging cardio and sculpt classes. One of the most fun surprises is being able to do a difficult pose or lifting your whole body with just your hands for the first time when you thought it would never be possible. Start incorporating a day of yoga into your cardio and weight lifting schedules for excellent muscle health.


Pilates, Getting Active
source: Brooklyn Academy Roots


Pilates is similar to yoga as it focuses on poses and breathing. It contains different poses and many are dynamic (movement within them) rather than static (holding them still). It also increases flexibility, strength, and endurance as in yoga. A big goal of Pilates is core strength. They believe that strength in the core first will lead to strength throughout the rest of your body. Pilates is an excellent starting point for exercising beginners as it gets you more knowledgeable and comfortable about your body.

When starting out with Pilates and yoga, always go to classes with skilled instructors. It is very important to get the poses correct before doing them on your own or injury could ensue. An instructor will ensure you are getting the poses right, and soon your body will know how to position itself on its own. Incorporate Pilates into other workout plans.


Weight Lifting, Getting Active
source: Prevention

Weight Lifting

If you want toned or bulky muscles, weight lifting is the way to do it. Choose two or three muscles to target every day in order to give them a break on their days off. Maybe it’s a back and chest lifting day. Start with a few sets of bench presses, then a few sets of pull ups. Do some supersets that alternate between chest and back to give each muscle group a quick break without needing to keep stopping. You can superset pushups and rows together. Or pec flies and dead lifts together. After your workout, your chest and back will be in extreme need of a few rest days. If you don’t give the muscle time to repair, it will be unable to build. Each muscle group will heal while you are working another.

Beginners can absolutely lift weights. Start out with lighter weights until you are comfortable enough to go heavier. Soon you will know exactly how much each muscle can lift and will be able to push yourself to progress. Remember to lift slowly. Your body will be able to feel whether you are doing things right or wrong. Lifting slowly will help you make any corrections and will make your muscles stronger than with quick, sloppy lifts. You will also want to incorporate cardio into your weight lifting routines. You may have bulky muscle all over you. However, if it is covered by fat, you will not be able to see it. Cardio will slim the fat and help the muscle show through.


Circuit Training, Getting Active
source: Pam Loisirs

Circuit Training

Circuit training is an excellent workout for beginners. It covers all your weight lifting basics and keeps your cardio interesting. Circuit training keeps your heart rate going up and down which burns more calories and is better for you than staying at one monotonous pace. Many gyms have areas set up for circuit training, or you can make up your own.

Pick several machines, lifts, or cardio routines to do, and do each one for a minute. (Make it longer when you get the hang of it!) Take a 10 to 30 second break, and then go on to the next lift or cardio routine. Repeat the whole cycle one or two more times depending on the amount of lifts. When you get more experienced, you can continue circuit training with heavier or more difficult lifts or cardio routines. Do not do the same circuit every day because your muscles need rest and your body needs variety.


Marathons, Getting Active
source: Tips on Healthy Living


Marathons are not something anyone, beginner or expert, should do every day. Training for one requires a lot of the same techniques mentioned in the running section. Some people are more suited for sprints and short distances, and some are suited for very long distances. If you are a beginner, training for a marathon will take quite a bit of time, as it does for everyone. This is a 26.2 mile run, so it is not something anyone should plan for with only a week’s notice.

Marathons are for people that truly enjoy running. It requires an extreme amount of leg strength and endurance. If you are looking for a way to lose weight, marathons are not the way to do it. You will not burn as much fat from a marathon as you will from a good session of circuit training because within a marathon, your heart rate stays pretty consistent. This is a great goal for running lovers. Just make sure you are prepared.


Kick Boxing, Getting Active
source: Pinterest

Kick Boxing

Kick boxing is another high energy class that many exercisers find enjoyable. Like Zumba, it deals with a dance-like routine, but instead of just burning calories to the music, you are also learning different punches and kicks that target and tone different muscles. This is not an exercise you can expect to get you muscle bulk, but it will burn some fat and get you started on muscle definition.


Biking and Spin Class, Getting Active
source: The Active Times

Biking or Spin Classes

Biking and spin classes are another type of cardio that builds leg strength. Beware of getting too comfortable at a stationary bike at the gym. You have to constantly push yourself and increase the intensity in order to get a good fat-burning workout.

Spin classes are great at pushing bike riders. The upbeat music makes it more exciting, and the instructor will incorporate intensity intervals to keep your heart rate moving and will leave your legs burning. Scenic exercise bike rides are sometimes the most appealing. Push yourself to increase your speed at intervals and find some hills to build your leg strength.


Elliptical, Getting Active
source: Health


Ellipticals are a common beginner and gym-wide cardio favorite. The no impact cardio is great for those with joint injuries. However, if your joints can handle a soft surface run, choose that when you can. A little impact in your legs during cardio is good for your bones. The impact will increase your bone density. Those that never give their legs the occasional impact of running are more susceptible to bone pain or injury during their normal lives.

If your joints are too sensitive to the impact, then by all means, use that elliptical! The cardio is much better than none. Increase the intensity, and use a machine with moving arm handles. You’ll find yourself getting an upper body workout as well when you put your arms into it.


Stair Climbing, Getting Active

Stair Climbing

Stair climbing is a leg ripper and a killer cardio sesh. Gyms have stair climbing machines that you can adjust your speed as you go. You will be surprised at the amount of calories you shred the faster you go. You can even use the stairs at your own house or apartment complex if you don’t have time to make it to the gym. Nobody will look at you funny, running up and down the stairs, when you have some rocking quads to show for it.


Swimming, Getting Active
source: The Guardian


Swimming is one of the best cardio workouts there are, and it is often overlooked. It burns a vast amount of calories not only due to your movement but to your body’s energy used to stay warm in the chill water.

Swimming is a cardio and weight lifting exercise in one. Since your body has to push its way through water instead of air, all your muscles are working to move you forward rather than just your legs. There are a variety of swimming strokes that can help you target different muscles while burning calories through cardio. Swim without use of your legs to target your arms. Thread water to work your legs. Do leg lifts while holding on to the side of the pool to shred your abs. Swimming is perfect for any type of exerciser and is easy on your joints and bones.


These are only a small handful of the several types of workouts out there. Pick the ones you feel are right for you and your body. Pick the ones that you find enjoyable and will not leave you dreading your workout every day. Make sure you switch up your workouts, as well. Pick several that you want to try, and switch up the exercises you do every day. Your mind and body need variety to keep things enjoyable and to keep progressing.

When you begin your exercise plan, start small. Choose lower weights, shorter time frames, smaller sets, and less intensity. Your next goal is to continue to build on these things. Once you get more confident and a greater ability to workout, get excited to bump up to a heavier weight; push yourself five minutes longer in your cardio; go through your moves in classes faster. Exercising will continue to get more and more fun.

Get active because you love your body. Get active for change. Get active for your family. And get active for yourself.

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Body Fit

Greg Marshall