Why Is It Important to Ease Into an Exercise Program?

March 28, 2024

Whether you’re new to fitness or getting back into it, diving headfirst into a rigorous exercise program without proper preparation can do more harm than good. Easing into an exercise program is crucial for several reasons, including preventing injury, improving adherence, and ensuring long-term success. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore why starting slow is essential and provide practical tips for gradually integrating exercise into your routine, along with advice about common pitfalls to avoid.

Why It’s Important to Take It Slow When Starting a New Exercise Program

Before you launch full speed into an exercise program, you should take the time to understand why this approach can do more harm than good. Learn more about the four main reasons to start slow when beginning a new exercise program below:

1. Preventing Injuries

One of the most significant reasons to ease into an exercise program is to prevent injuries. Jumping into intense workouts without allowing your body to adjust can lead to strains, sprains, and other injuries. In fact, a 2024 Gitnux market data report estimates that 50% of gym injuries are due to overuse and overtraining. By starting slow, you’ll give your muscles, joints, and cardiovascular system time to adapt to new demands, significantly reducing the risk of injury. 

2. Building a Sustainable Habit

Exercise should not be a sprint but a marathon. Increasing exercise intensity without a solid foundation often leads to burnout and discontinuation. Easing into a program helps build a sustainable habit, making exercise a regular part of your lifestyle rather than a fleeting endeavor.

3. Reducing Muscle Soreness

Some muscle soreness after exercising can be expected when starting a new routine, but excessive soreness can be discouraging. A gradual increase in intensity helps minimize this discomfort, making the exercise more enjoyable and manageable. The Mayo Clinic suggests increasing your activity level by no more than 10% each week as you’re starting out. Doing so will reduce the risk of too much muscle soreness and raise the chance you stick to your exercise program.

4. Improving Long-term Adherence

Starting with manageable goals and slowly increasing the challenge level improves confidence and motivation. When progress is perceived as achievable, staying committed for the long haul is easier. Adopting good exercise habits could take up to seven months, so keeping manageable goals and exercise loads is vital.

6 Tips for Easing Into an Exercise Program

As you get started with a new exercise program, you can improve your chances of sticking with it by following a few tips. From setting realistic goals and listening to your body to switching up your routine and starting with low-impact activities, you can take a few actions to set yourself up for success. Whether you want to reduce the risk of injury or improve your chance of making exercise a habit, review these six tips for properly easing into an exercise program:

1. Start with Low-impact Activities

Begin with low-impact activities such as walking, calisthenics, or cycling. These exercises are easier on the joints and a great way to build endurance and strength without overwhelming your body.

2. Incorporate Stretching and Warm-up Routines

Always start your exercise session with a full-body warm-up to prepare your body for physical activity. Incorporating stretching into your routine improves flexibility and reduces the risk of injury.

3. Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals can make it easier to stay on track. For example, fitness trainers often suggest setting goals that aren’t too conservative, too outlandish, or too far in the future.

4. Listen to Your Body

Pay close attention to how your body responds to exercise. If you experience pain or discomfort beyond typical muscle soreness, it may be a sign to scale back or take a day off.

5. Diversify Your Routine

Incorporating a variety of exercises can prevent boredom and target different muscle groups. Try mixing cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises into your routine.

6. Rest and Recovery

Adequate rest is just as important as the workout itself. Ensure you get enough sleep and incorporate rest days into your exercise program to allow your body to recover and prevent overtraining.

5 Fitness Pitfalls to Avoid When Starting an Exercise Program

Once you start a new exercise program, you’ll want to avoid a few common beginner fitness mistakes. If you’d like to see the best results and avoid injuries, avoid these five pitfalls people often make when starting a new workout plan:

1. Overexertion

Pushing yourself too hard and too fast can lead to injuries and burnout. Respect your body’s limits and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.

2. Neglecting Rest Days

Failing to take adequate rest days can lead to overuse injuries, and continuous muscle breakdown could hinder progress. Failing to rest properly could lead to overtraining syndrome, characterized by fatigue, decreased performance, and a higher risk of injury.

3. Ignoring Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition is essential for fueling workouts and recovering from them. Ignoring nutritional needs can hinder progress and lead to fatigue.

4. Skipping Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs

Skipping warm-ups and cool-downs during your workout routine increases the risk of injury and can make recovery more challenging.

5. Comparing Yourself to Others

Everyone’s fitness journey is unique. Comparing yourself to others can be demotivating. Focus on your progress and achievements.

City Fitness Philadelphia Shift

Start a New Exercise Program in Philadelphia at City Fitness

So why is it important to ease into an exercise program? Easing into an exercise program is a strategy that prioritizes staying injury-free, long-term success, and well-being. By starting slow, setting realistic goals, and listening to your body, you can build a sustainable exercise habit that supports your health and happiness. Remember, the fitness journey is not a race but a lifelong commitment to self-care and well-being.

If you’re interested in beginning a new exercise program in Philadelphia, turn to City Fitness. We offer a variety of non-impact fitness classes that are perfect for easing back into fitness. For example, we often recommend our Flexibility and Mobility in our Focus studio or Synergy Cycling in our Shift studio to people just getting back into the swing of regular exercise. If you’d like more personal guidance with your fitness routine, we offer one-on-one training, and any of our coaches will be happy to assist you!

Review our class schedule and many gym locations in Philadelphia to find an effective exercise program near your neighborhood.