Selecting an Exercise Program

Recently, the pastor at our church preached on the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). While most people know how the story ends — David strikes Goliath down with just a stone —  few people know what happened before David went out to meet the giant.

Before going out, Saul dressed David in his (Saul’s) tunic, coat of armor, bronze helmet, and sword. But David was not used to them and told Saul that he could not go out in them and took them off. David took what he was familiar with, his staff, five stones, and his sling, and went out to meet Goliath.

While this is a completely different scenario, the story got me thinking about how people, when they are about to start an exercise program to slay their own “giant,” often enter into the exercise program with something that does not “fit” them or their goals, much as Saul’s clothing and armor did not fit David. Too often, people take what is popular on social media, the internet, etc., and try to make it work to accomplish their goals. While there are many good programs out there, when selecting an exercise program, we must make sure that it is designed to help us get to where we want to be. If the goal is to run a 5K, we want a program designed with running in mind rather than bodybuilding, for example.

While you do need to challenge yourself, make sure that the program you select and ultimately use is designed in such a way that it fits where you are at physically. While it may be tempting to jump into a challenging program, it may have been written for an intermediate or advanced individual rather than a beginner.

Here are some tips for starting an exercise program.

  1. Establish a goal.
  2. Understand your status physically.
  3. Locate a well-known trainer or specialist who can help you get started.
  4. Get fitted for a good pair of shoes (that match your goals).
  5. Start slowly and work your way into the program.
  6. Celebrate your success.

From time-to-time evaluate how you are progressing. There are many factors that could hinder the achievement of your goals. Understand that these exist and work through them the best way that you can. I often tell my students, “life happens.” Be persistent in your efforts.

The mission of the Exercise & Sport Science Department at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is to prepare professionals through excellence in teaching, research and service that promote healthy behaviors and active lifestyles across the lifespan.