Embarking upon a new fitness program can be a challenging task. Here are six steps to ensure you start down the right path to health.

1) What's your starting point? Before embarking on any fitness program, it is important that you first assess your own level of health and fitness. If you have not been regularly exercising, you should check with your doctor before taking the next step. At the very least, plan to start slow and build your way up.

2) Set your goals. What are you trying to achieve? Weight loss? A more muscular body? Write down short term concrete goals that will guide you. One goal might be to lose ten pounds. Another might be to move up to a more difficult level on the stationary bike. Goals are important for several reasons. They motivate you. They give you something measurable to evaluate your progress. And keeping them short term gives you the ability to more frequently enjoy the wins as you reach a new level.

3) Do what you'll enjoy. It's important that the fitness program you choose actually incorporates activities you will enjoy. If you hate the gym, find a program of home and outdoor based exercises. If you dislike jogging, focus on swimming or biking. The key is to choose activities that won't bore or frustrate you.

4) Mix it up. And speaking of boredom, it's helpful to incorporate a range of activities so you can mix up your workouts. Swim one day, bike the next. Not only does this keep you from falling into a rut, but it also forces your body to adapt to different types of movement and muscle use. For example, a program that alternates swimming with biking will ensure that you are working almost every major muscle in the body.

5) Check your wallet. You need to find a program that falls within any budget constraints you might have. If a gym membership is out of your price range, invest in a program that concentrates on exercises that can be done at home or outside. It makes no sense to invest in a fitness program that emphasizes the use of gym circuit machines if you can't afford the membership.

6) Just do it. This is the key step. After doing all the homework, go for it. Actually get up and start the program you've selected. It's time to get physical and follow through on your fitness goals. Start slow and build intensity gradually. What's the payoff? A future that includes a healthier and happier you. And chances are it's a future that will last longer than if you don't get off the couch.

Author's Bio: 

J.D. Bell is a former fitness and health trainer who, as a first time father at age 45, is very focused on his own longevity.

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