Exercise: How to Get Started

Shoes and Equipment

Shoes Are Important

For many activities, you don't need any special clothing. Most often, any comfortable, loose-fitting clothes will do. However, your shoes are an important part of your physical activity routine. Remember, you're going to be wearing them a lot. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

You don't need to buy special equipment to exercise. Many physical activities -- such as brisk walking, raking leaves, or taking the stairs whenever you can -- are free or low cost and do not require special equipment.

What to Use for Strength Training

For strength training, you will often need to lift or push weights. You can use the strength-training equipment at a fitness center or gym. Or, you can use weights, resistance bands, or even common objects from your home. For example, you can make your own weights from unbreakable household items.

How to Use Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are stretchy elastic bands that come in several strengths, from light to heavy. You can use them in some strength exercises instead of weights.

  1. Lay the band flat in your hand with the end toward your pinky finger.
  2. Wrap the long end of the band around the back of your hand.
  3. Grasp firmly.

If you are a beginner, try exercising without the band until you are comfortable, then add the band. Choose a light band if you are just starting to exercise, and move on to a stronger band when you can do 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions easily.

Hold on to the band tightly (some bands have handles), or wrap it around your hand or foot to keep it from slipping and causing possible injury. Do the exercises in a slow, controlled manner, and don't let the band snap back.

Using a Step Counter (Pedometer)

Step counters, also called pedometers, can help you keep track of your endurance activity, set goals, and measure progress. Most inactive people get fewer than 5,000 steps a day, and some very inactive people get only 2,000 steps a day.

Wear the step counter for a few days to see how you're doing. If you get: