Thinking of starting a new fitness program? Unsure how to make the fitness habit stick? Here are some tried and true tips to help you get and staying active.

1. Check in with your medical provider. Depending on your current fitness level, health conditions, physical limitations, and other factors, certain fitness routines or exercising too aggressively might be dangerous. So check in with your provider before you start a new fitness plan.

2. Start slow. The worst thing you can do is to try and go from nothing to 100 percent. It’s a very common mistake. While it’s true that a woman should aim for 5 hours of physical activity a week and men for 3 hours, that shouldn’t be the goal for your first week. If you do, you’ll likely end up either discouraged, injured, or both. Instead, try to add five minutes of activity to your day, and when your body adjusts to that, add five more minutes. It’s not only less intimidating, but it helps you gradually build your endurance level and adjust to being more active. If you give yourself permission to start slow and gradually build up, you will be amazed at just how much you actually enjoy your new exercise habit!

3. Resist the urge to spend a lot of money on a gym membership or fitness equipment right away. Start by buying yourself a good pair of walking shoes and maybe a new workout outfit. Once you work your way up to walking for 30 minutes at a time, then it’s time to consider joining the gym or buying a treadmill.

4. Remember that exercise alone will not solve a weight problem. Make sure you pair your new fitness routine with a sound low-calorie, high-nutrition food plan and counseling to address the psychological and behavioral factors involved in your weight problem.

5. Remember it’s never too late! No matter how long it’s been or what shape you are in currently, there is always room for fitness in your life.

A perfect example is the story of a man in the CMWL program who was in his late 40s and had a BMI over 40. He had not exercised in years and suffered from painful arthritis as a result of his weight. One day after he had lost about 40 pounds, he came into the provider’s office happier than ever.

When asked why, he replied that over the last few months, he had set the goal to walk down his long driveway to his mailbox. At first, he took along a lawn chair and walked as far as he could, stopping to rest along the way. Gradually he could go a little further, and a little further.

That morning he had walked all the way to the mailbox and back without stopping! It may not seem like a lot, but it was the start of his journey toward adding fitness to his life. He gradually worked his way up to walking for more than 30 minutes at a time without stopping. This new healthy habit put him on track to reach his goal weight as well.

Like him, you too can start and stick with a fitness routine and begin to live a healthier, fuller life. No more excuses! See you out on the walking path.