How to get fit

It feels good to move, but it can be daunting and intimidating to know where to start. No matter what your current lifestyle or fitness levels are, we’re here to help you learn how to get fit and stay fit. Here’s how to sneak more exercise into your daily life, to boost your body and your mind.

So you’ve decided to get moving. That’s amazing! Step one to getting fit is making the decision to do something about it, so you’re already on your way to a fitter you. We’ll guide you through the next few steps to help you achieve your fitness goals…

How to start getting fit

No one got marathon-ready overnight. Getting fit takes time, but even if you’re not a natural gym bunny, you can get there with a little persistence, it’s all about finding what works best for you. Be patient, listen to your body, be kind to yourself and start with small steps. Once you’re feeling more confident, you can up the ante.

Sneak exercise into your daily routine

Walking is the easiest way to do this, and one of the best ways to get fit. If you usually get the bus to work or school, try walking or at least getting off the bus a couple of stops early. Swap your internet shopping for perusing the high street, choose the stairs and offer to take the dog for a walk. This should get your heart rate up a bit more than usual.

Suggest getting active with friends

If you usually meet up at each others’ houses or at a local cafe, suggest meeting up in the park instead – take a frisbee, suggest a game of rounders or go for a bike ride. Having friends around can help you stay motivated.

Use fitness apps

Apps like the free NHS Couch to 5K app are a fantastic example of how small steps can help you achieve big goals. It’s aimed at total beginners and helps you to slowly increase your fitness and lose weight. In the space of nine weeks you can learn to run 5K without breaks. You can also use fitness trackers to help monitor and celebrate your progress.

Set yourself achievable fitness goals

If you’re fairly new to the world of fitness, start off slow. If walking to work or school every day sounds too much, try a couple of days a week to start off with, and see how you go.

Find ways of getting fit that you enjoy

Finding a sport or exercise that you enjoy is really important. If you like what you’re doing, you’re much more likely to stick with it. So spend some time thinking about what gets your juices flowing and experiment with different options. What kind of fitness fanatic are you? Do you like the short burst of strength training, or the meditative pace of yoga?

  • The Gym Bunny – the gym is a great place to start exercising if you’re looking to build your strength or are looking to focus on a particular part of your body. Plus there’s a whole heap of fancy equipment you won’t find in your front room.
  • The Bootcamp Burner – personal trainers, bootcamps, circuit training, high intensity workouts and crossfit are all part of this parcel. The benefit is having a motivational leader and the support of other bootcamp members.
  • The Team Player – great for sociable types looking for a combo of fun and fitness. Have a look into local football, netball, volleyball plus more niche sports like ultimate frisbee and korfball.
  • The Extreme Sporter – regular skiing or surfing might not be realistic but things like rock climbing have become much more accessible. Climbing is a great way to improve strength and agility, plus it’s sociable.   
  • The Zen Master – looking to hone your mind as well as body? Then things like yoga, tai chi and Qigong could be right for you.
  • The Leisurely Sporter – for something less intimidating try swimming, walking, power walking, badminton or jogging. They may be more leisurely, but are still effective in upping your fitness levels.
  • The Class Passer – classes are often a lot more fun than exercising on your own at home and the teacher will ensure you’re doing the exercises correctly. Your class of choice could be something like pilates, dance, spinning or aerobics. Classes can also be an opportunity to try something more unusual like aerial yoga or circus fitness.  

What’s stopping you getting fit?

If you’ve got a fitness plan in mind but you’re still finding it painful to peel yourself away from the sofa, it’s time for some detective work to figure out what’s standing in your way. Common problems include:

  • Body confidence can be a huge hurdle when it comes to getting fit. Try not to compare yourself to other people, remember that exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve body image and read our article on building self-esteem and struggles with body image.
  • Money. Gym membership and fitness classes can be expensive. Fortunately there are a few options for the thrifty fitness seeker. The NHS have produced a few free fitness training programmes and Youtube is full of free fitness videos such as Yoga with Adriene. These are a great way to try something out without committing long term or forking out a fortune. Other purse friendly options include outdoor park gyms and discounted gym memberships if you’re currently claiming benefits.  
  • Motivation is a biggie. One of the biggest things you can do to help motivate yourself is pair up with a friend. Find a friend who is also looking to join a gym, start a class or try running. Exercising together will be more fun plus you’ll have your own personal cheerleader for those days when motivation is lacking.
  • Having a goal. Something like an organised 10K charity run that you’ll have to train for can be a great incentive to get going. Other organised events include the Shine Night Walk, mini triathlons, and tough mudders.

More support with getting fit

We’ve got another article on how to get fit with some ideas for how to get fit fast here. If your fitness and body image is affecting your mental health, reach out to The Mix here for support. Through the arts and education Body Gossip, a positive body image charity, aims to empower everyone to fulfil their potential.

What are your tips and hacks for getting fit? Let us know on our discussion boards.

Next Steps

  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • Through the arts and education Body Gossip, a positive body image charity, aims to empower everyone to fulfil their potential.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By Ally Thomas

Updated on 27-Oct-2022