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"The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Exercise Routine : Top 10 considerations"

Updated: May 16

Author: Kaveh Daei Hagh DPT, M. Clin Ex Phys, B. Ex Sp Sci. Owner and Director of Stand Sure Physiotherapy.

Embarking on a new exercise regimen is an exciting journey that can have numerous benefits for your physical and mental health. However, before you lace up your sneakers, there are several important factors to consider to ensure a safe and successful start to your fitness journey.

1. Health Assessment:

Before starting any exercise program, it’s essential to assess your current health status. Consider scheduling a check-up with your healthcare provider to discuss any existing medical conditions, past injuries, or risk factors that may impact your ability to exercise safely.

Certain health conditions have specific considerations when it comes to exercise. For example if you have multiple sclerosis then your symptoms may be exacerbated by heat therefore you’d want to make sure you have some water on hand, exercise in a cool environment and allow time for regular rest breaks. If you are dealing with a tendon issue, you would want to know what kind of symptoms are expected, normal and safe to exercise through and what are not. If you are a diabetic you should know what kind of exercise is good when your blood sugar levels are high vs when they are low - you get my point.

Unless you want past injuries to become or cause new injuries you should give them some consideration when forming a new exercise regimen. An assessment with a professional will be necessary to identify any potential imbalances or weaknesses that may have remained following a previous injury and assist in programming accordingly.

Health professional conducting a Telehealth consultation reviewing imaging results and explaining findings to patient via video call

2. Goal Setting:

Define clear and realistic goals for your exercise program. Whether you’re aiming to lose weight, build muscle, improve flexibility, or enhance overall health - setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based (SMART) goals can help you stay motivated and track your progress effectively. *Let’s pretend like this the first time you’ve come across the concept of SMART goals*.

An example of a poorly set goal would be: “my goal is to lose weight…”

An example of a SMART goal would be: “my goal is to lose 5kg body weight in 90 days.”

A well set goal can help keep you honest and on track, but it can also function as a measure of effectiveness for the approach you are using. You will either achieve it or you won’t, and if you don’t you can go back to the drawing board and identify what you could be doing better.

It is also important to note that your goals will determine relevance of some forms exercise over others. For example if your goal is to increase your 5RM deadlift by 20kg in 3 months then it wouldn’t make sense to perform resistance training only once per week and do HIIT training 3 times. Such clarity can be found online if you look in the right places but this may be a time where speaking to a well versed professional could fast track your search for answers.

Infographic depicting the process of setting SMART goals, including specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound criteria

3. Exercise Preferences:

Consider your personal preferences and interests when choosing the type of exercise to incorporate into your routine. Whether you enjoy running, cycling, swimming, dancing, or weightlifting, selecting activities that you genuinely enjoy can increase adherence and make your workouts more enjoyable.

In stating that, try to keep an open mind and realise that what you prefer may not be what’s most indicated for you, depending on your goal. I would hope that your commitment to achieving your objective will outweigh any reservations towards particular types of exercise that could take you where you want to go - thankfully there’s plenty of ways cook an egg.

AI-generated image depicting diverse individuals engaging in various exercises, including walking, running, yoga, Pilates, weightlifting, and more

4. Time Commitment:

Evaluate your schedule and determine how much time you can realistically dedicate to exercise each week. Consistency is key to achieving your fitness goals, so aim to establish a regular workout routine that fits seamlessly into your daily life.

Realise that you don’t need to charge like a wounded bull into your exercise program. Personally I would recommend that initially you underestimate your dedicated exercise hours especially if you’re starting out. Meaning if you think you could train four times a week, I’d prefer you train twice a week for the first month and let that be the only number you focus on - attendance. We want to establish exercise into your routine first because that’s when the magic happens, from there you can gradually increase, your tendons will thank you - and me, for telling you.

Open diary on a table with an apple, coffee mug, pens, and highlighters, creating an organised setup for planning and routine management

5. Safety Precautions:

Prioritise safety by taking necessary precautions before starting any exercise program. This may include warming up and cooling down properly, using proper form and technique, wearing appropriate footwear and attire, staying hydrated, and listening to your body’s signals to avoid overexertion or injury.

Safety precautions will change depending on your injury history also. For example some exercises may be more challenging/dangerous than others and will require extra awareness. I would suggest that it is worth weighing up the risk versus the reward when choosing your exercises. Again if you have any reason for doubts, a chat with a professional could help in understanding what you are getting into.

6. Gradual Progression:

Avoid the temptation to jump into intense workouts right away. Instead, start gradually and progress slowly over time to allow your body to adapt and avoid burnout or injury. Gradually increase the intensity, duration, and frequency of your workouts as your fitness level improves.

In my years I have seen way too many people start up an exercise regimen and expect themselves to go from couch potato to Ronnie Coleman in three months. Expecting themselves to train 5 x weekly or even EVERY DAY after being sedentary for the last two years. Can I just say that this is not a good idea. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor were Ronnie’s biceps.

Personally I believe you should always leave something in the tank after a workout. I have seen way too many elite athletes operate under such a philosophy for me not to agree. Training should consist of phases, and your preferences can dictate said phases to some degree, however tapering and periodising are some terms you’d want to familiarise yourself with. Scheduling de-load sessions or weeks should be common practice. Red lining it every session is not sustainable and will catch up to eventually - mark my words.

Consistency. Little by little. Step by step. Small victories.

Wall with the etched quote ‘Small steps are still progress,’ serving as a motivational reminder

7. Recovery and Rest:

Give your body time to rest and recover between workouts to prevent fatigue, overtraining, and burnout. Incorporate rest days and de-load weeks into your weekly schedule, prioritise quality sleep, and consider incorporating recovery strategies such as stretching, foam rolling, massage, sauna/cryotherapy - if that is suitable for you, and proper nutrition.

8. Nutrition and Hydration:

Fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to support your exercise regimen. I am not qualified to comment extensively regarding diet but what general advice I can give is to maintain a balanced diet rich in whole foods, including lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. Stay hydrated before, during, and after exercise by drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day. For more detailed and specific recommendations, especially if you have other health considerations, please speak to your doctor or dietician.

Bowl of porridge topped with nuts and berries, representing a nutritious and energy-packed breakfast option

9. Useful equipment:

After you’ve started your fitness journey and committed to taking the first step, you will need some equipment. While you don’t need every piece of equipment right away, below are some useful items you might want to consider - I have included Amazon links. I am a huge Amazon fan. Ordering something online and then it showing up on your door step the next day or sometimes same day! How can you beat that?!

Smart watch/ fitness wearable: A smart watch/ fitness wearable can be of great assistance to you on your exercise journey. Aside from the real world utility i.e. text messages, emails, reminders etc. you can track useful workout metrics like duration, intensity, heart rate, and distance travelled. Just as useful is the tracking of calories burnt during exercise and regularly throughout the day - basically essential information when you are trying to lose weight and sleep data that can give you insight on your recovery and more. A handy gadget that will help refine your exercise regimen.

Here are some popular options: I earn a commission for products purchased through some of the links in this article, at no extra cost to you.

Samsung Galaxy 6

Image of Samsung Galaxy 6 smartwatch, with an Amazon affiliate link included below

Apple Watch series 9

Image of Apple Watch Series 9, with an Amazon affiliate link attached below

Fitbit by Google Charge 6

Image of Fitbit Charge 6 by Google, with an Amazon affiliate link attached below

Good footwear: You will need some good, supportive footwear. Shoes that will support feet well and be robust enough to tolerate different types of exercise. My recommendations would be Asics Gel-Kayano or HOKA Cliffton 9. In my experience most of their range offers great foot and arch support that will prove to be useful for a range of different forms of exercise. I would give the edge to HOKA due to comfort, durability and gait optimising design.

HOKA Clifton 9: Mens

Image of Men’s HOKA Clifton 9 shoes, with an Amazon affiliate link below

Asics Gel-Kayano: Mens

Image of men’s ASICS Gel Kayano shoes, with an affiliate link below

HOKA Clifton 9: womens

Image of a Women’s HOKA Clifton 9 shoes, with an Amazon affiliate link below

Asics Gel-Kayano: Womens

Image of women’s ASICS Gel Kayano shoes, with an affiliate link below

Comfortable work out attire: I can’t give much advice here obviously because comfort is subjective - but just know you’ll need this.

Drink bottle: A nice drink bottle will be useful, potentially in the gym to avoid multiple trips to the bubbler whilst exercising, or to mix in your favourite workout elixirs. Also if you plan on exercising in an outdoor setting and need to carry your fluids with you. Below are some popular insulated bottles which will preserve the temperature of what’s inside them.

Owala FreeSip

Image of Owala FreeSip insulated drink bottle, with an Amazon affiliate link

CamelBak ChuteMag

Image of CamelBak ChuteBag insulated bottle, with an Amazon affiliate link below

Coleman FreeFlow

Image of Coleman FreeFlow insulated bottle, with an Amazon affiliate link below

Towel: Many gyms require members to bring their own towels to wipe down equipment after use and to use as a barrier between your body and gym surfaces. Pack a towel to keep sweat at bay and maintain cleanliness during your workouts. Here are some popular choices:

Sinland Microfiber 3 pack

Image of Sinland microfiber 3-pack of towels, with an Amazon affiliate link below

EPAauto travel towel 2 pack

Image of EPAuto travel towel 2-pack, with an Amazon affiliate link below

KUEN Cooling Towel

Image of KUEN cooling towel, with an Amazon affiliate link below

Foam Roller and Spike Ball: What eventually becomes a staple in all experienced exercisers arsenal. Can help with maintaining/ improving mobility, and post workout recovery. Here are some popular options:

Trigger Point Grid Roller

Image of Trigger Point Grid Foam roller, with an affiliate link below

ProsourceFit Foam Roller

Image of ProsourceFit Foam Roller, with an Amazon affiliate link below

Mobipoint Massage Ball

Image of Mobipoint Massage Ball, with an Amazon affiliate link below

Deep Tissue Massage Ball

Image of Deep Tissue Massage Ball, with an Amazon affiliate link below

10. Accountability and Support:

Find accountability and support to help you stay motivated and accountable to your fitness goals. This could involve exercising with a friend or family member, joining a group fitness class, hiring a personal trainer, or participating in online communities and forums for encouragement and inspiration.


Starting an exercise program is an empowering step towards improving your health, fitness, and overall well-being. By considering these ten key factors before diving into your fitness journey, you can set yourself up for success, minimise the risk of injury, and maximise the enjoyment and benefits of regular physical activity.

If you are interested in booking a Telehealth consultation with me you can book online below, reach me via text or WhatsApp on +61 426 921 045 or email and we can make it happen!

I am also the co founder of On Track Online Training with my good friend and colleague Tonu Liiband, an elite strength and conditioning coach. We have teamed up to bring to you what we believe to be a very high quality online health, wellbeing and exercise service and community. Watch this space for more information very soon.

If you would like to learn a bit more about me I have written a blog post explaining exactly that here:

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