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Question:

I know that I feel better when I exercise but I have a hard time getting going because I have a fear of injuring myself. Any ideas?

Answer:

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Take things slowly and ramp up your exercise routine gradually.

There are three main training variables you can manipulate so that your exercise routine progresses at a safe pace: duration, frequency and intensity.

I'd suggest you start by keeping the intensity and frequency of your workouts moderate. Initially just increase the duration of your workouts. This will give you a great foundation to build on as you get stronger.

Start by working out at moderate intensity for 20 minutes, three times per week, on non-consecutive days.

After two to four weeks, begin to increase the duration of your workouts by 10 to 20 per cent each week.

If you are doing higher-impact activity such as jogging, only increase the total time of your workout by 10 per cent a week. That would be an initial increase of two minutes.

If you are doing lower-impact cardio workouts, such as swimming or using an elliptical machine, you can increase the duration by up to 20 per cent a week.

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Once you can comfortably do 45 minutes of the activity without any joint pain or muscle strains, start to increase either the intensity or the frequency of your workouts.

Trainer's Tip:

Manipulate one training variable at a time - do not increase the frequency and intensity within the same week. For example, start by making one of your workouts more intense by incorporating some higher-intensity intervals. After a couple of weeks, play around with another variable - for example add in a fourth workout per week.

Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at trainer@globeandmail.com . She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Kathleen Trotter

Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.





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