If you are just getting into the swing of things, starting light is the best approach. Whether “it’s just been a while” or you have experienced an injury, there are a few things to remember. Some of these would be proper footwear, comfortable clothes, and a positive attitude; each can make or break your workout. Also, it is better to gradually build up than to push too far and risk an injury.
If you are carrying more weight or have a lower body/back injury, lower impact aerobic exercise is suggested. These include walking, riding a stationary bike, or swimming and other water exercises. 10-minute bouts are long enough to count as minutes toward your daily exercise, yet short enough to manage throughout the day. Additionally, any resistance training (i.e., strength training, weight lifting) should be started low and slow.
Every movement should be slow and controlled with proper form to reap the most benefits and avoid injury. One set of 6-12 repetitions for any exercise is a good start. If 8 or more repetitions can be completed easily, then additional sets can be done. Depending on your goals and starting point, 2-5 sets are recommended with each set consisting of 8-10 repetitions. If 12 repetitions can be done easily, an increase in weight is advised. If moving to a larger weight or fewer than 8 can be completed, consider doing one set less until 8-10 can be done. Lastly, if it is difficult to do an exercise or easy to do so, consider changing your position, such as a standing position to sitting, or lying down, and vice versa.
This chart can be read as:
-I find 3 sets of 6 repetitions of this weight too difficult to complete, I should only do 2 sets OR I should decrease the weight.
-I find myself able to do 10 repetitions of this weight comfortable through 3 sets. I should make no changes.
-I find myself able to do 12 repetitions of this weight through 3 sets and may be able to do more. I should increase the weight and try 8-10 reps, or I should do 4 sets of this weight (depends on goals).
Below are a few examples of light exercises for beginners: