May 22,

Getting Started

Getting Started

Tips for getting started safely

  • Get medical clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a preexisting condition. Ask if there are any activities you should avoid. Take a look at Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaires PAR-Q & You (up to age 69), and PAR-Q+ (any age).
  • Consider health concerns. Keep in mind how your ongoing health problems affect your workouts. For example, diabetics may need to adjust the timing of medication and meal plans when setting an exercise schedule. Above all, if something feels wrong, such as sharp pain or unusual shortness of breath, simply stop. You may need to scale back or try another activity.
  • Start slow. If you haven’t been active in a while, it can be harmful to go “all out.” Instead, build up your exercise program little by little. Try spacing workouts in ten-minute increments twice a day. Or try just one class each week. Prevent crash-and-burn fatigue by warming up, cooling down, and keeping water handy.
  • Commit to an exercise schedule for at least 3 or 4 weeks so that it becomes habit, and force yourself to stick with it.
  • Stay motivated by focusing on short-term goals, such as improving your mood and energy levels and reducing stress, rather than goals such as weight loss, which can take longer to achieve.
  • Recognize problems. Exercise should never hurt or make you feel lousy. Stop exercising immediately and call your doctor if you feel dizzy or short of breath, develop chest pain or pressure, break out in a cold sweat, or experience pain. Also stop if a joint is red, swollen, or tender to touch.

One of the best ways to get and stay physically active is to set goals

SMART goals

SMART goals are: Specific, Measureable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-framed.

SMART Goals are a way of planning changes that make tasks “do-able”.

Specific: What are you going to do? Why is it important? How are you going to do it?

Specific goals help you to focus on and define what you want to do.

Example: I will walk around my neighbourhood.

Measurable: How much, How often? How many? How will I know I have accomplished my goal?

Measurable goals help you establish how you will track your progress and allow you to see that change has occurred.

Example: I will walk for 20 minutes 3 days per week.

Action-Oriented: What are you going to do to reach your goals? What action is required on your part?

Action-oriented goals allow you to focus on the actions that you need to take to make change happen.

Example: I will walk with my friend and will make appointments on my calendar.

Realistic: Is the goal within your current capabilities? Do you believe that you can accomplish this goal?

Realistic, but challenging goals allow you to feel satisfied with your achievement.

Example: I will walk at a moderate pace (unrealistic to speedwalk or run at the start)

Time-framed: How long will it take? When will you start?

Time-framed goals give you an endpoint and a clear target to work towards. Without a time frame there is no urgency to start working towards you goal.

Example: I will start in 2 days and will evaluate my progress in two weeks.


Activity logs can be a helpful way of setting out specific activities in advance, or keeping track of your activities and the progress of your goal


Blank log

More examples can be found here

You may want to order a Walk This Way kit for free which includes a laminated calendar with attachable magnet as well as a pedometer

Remember that proper nutrition and adequate sleep are also key to achieving activity goals. Older adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.



The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP),

Advocating for Physical Activity (2013), Ophea, PARC and Western Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging

Active Healthy Kids Canada,

Last modified on Aug 03, 2016