How to get back into fitness the right way
I wrote this article as a general guideline for help on how to get into a cardio regimen and general muscle toning:
The number one most important and absolutely necessary key to cardio and fitness is to not dive directly into something. If you go from nothing to a full fledged five day a week workout with guidelines and strict rules, you will be in unknown territory. Some people will adjust and drive on, but most will quickly take a disliking and go back to what they know, which is doing nothing. It is important to start slowly then gradually increase the intensity and complexity of the workouts (this is also true with diet changes). With slow changes, if you get to a step you don't like, you don't have to revert back to your original state of doing nothing. You can just go back to the previous workouts until you are ready to try and move up again. You will continuously progress; the speed is up to you.
To start, find some cardio activity you like to do. If you have a dog, take the dog for walks and increase the distance gradually. Then replace a few of your walking minutes throughout your walk with some running. No dog? If you have a loved one or especially children, you can substitute them for the dog (HA!) and everyone gets the benefits of fitness. The same goes for cycling and any outdoor activity like climbing, hiking, or team sports. It is important with cycling to not go hog wild on day 1 by purchasing an expensive bike with all the works just to get started. If you find you don't enjoy cycling, you will resent the purchase, which will only serve to hurt your goals. Try getting a basic bike with a few gears and a comfortable seat and see how much you enjoy it. If you get really into it, it may then be worth it to spend several hundred dollars on gear.
For muscle tone, start with some basics. Mix pushups and crunches in with your cardio. After a couple of weeks, you will know if your muscles like the feeling of those certain moves, then you can move on to looking for a gym or using home weights. When you get to the weight lifting portion of it, it is of paramount importance to take it slowly. Too many people make New Year's resolutions to get back into the gym. They dive in head first and make their first workout a hellian. After not being able move for two weeks afterwards, they quickly lose motivation. So, start slowly, try each machine and exercise with light weight, and find the ones that you enjoy and that your body likes. That may sound strange, but I have found that it is quite effective. My body doesn't like some movements or exercises; part of it is a lasting effect from my shoulder surgery, and part from preference.
It is impossible to screw up cardio; if your body is moving, you are succeeding. Weights are a different matter; when you get to this stage I will be happy to develop a scheme for you based on the equipment you have with which to work.
I hope this helps. I will be happy to answer any questions you have, so feel free to send me a message!