How can I get in shape if I’m starting from virtually no exercise?

I exercise very little, with only short (<1km) walks in the morning and usually sitting the rest of the day. Whenever I try to start being more active, I feel sick so quickly that it turns me off from exercising at all. What is a good way to ease into regular exercise when starting from zero (i.e., what are the next steps after a 1km walk)?

  Topic Health Subtopic Fitness Tags exercise getting in shape
1 Years 4 Answers 1.2k views

Emma Pollock

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Answers ( 4 )

  1. Brian Shelden 238 Accepted Answer Community Answer

    Well, firstly, I wouldn't say walking 1km / day is not in shape!  That's a great start.  I assume you are asking because you want to grow your fitness by walking more?


    If you're getting sick when extending the distance, I'd recommend applying a rule of thumb that comes from distance running: never add more than 10% a week.  I apply that to both weekly milage and the length of my longest run of the week.

    The rule exists because big jumps in distance are a great way to cause injury. So given you feel sick when you up your walking distance suddenly, it might be useful for you, too?

    The mechanics are easy. If you're doing 1km / day this week, do 1100m next week.  Then 1210m.  Then 1331m.  Etc.  Of course being exactly that precise isn't required.  It's a rule of thumb.

    It might seem like you're increasing slowly.  But that's the point.  The cool think is that increasing by 10% / week will double your milage in 6 or 7 weeks.  And hopefully, each increase will feel easy.


    Brian Shelden


    UTC 2021-06-10 06:13 PM 0 Comments
  2. J Starr 4415

    I'm going to go about this a different way: Normal exercise-  walking, light calisthenics, even short runs, shouldn't make a person feel "sick".  The fact it makes you feel "sick" indicates a problem- and it is a problem best first considered by your licensed health care provider.

    You may have an inner-ear problem which manifests as just enough dizziness that you feel nauseated; you may have a spine problem so that repeated jarring causes pain which is being referred elsewhere; you might have a migraine response to the increase in blood pressure that goes along with sustained physical effort.  WE don't know; your licensed health care provider might- and can make a far more educated guess than we.

    That is the best place to start.

    Also, it would be smart for you to perhaps ask for a referral for Physical Therapy for conditioning.  You are likely "out of condition", and physical therpists are not only very good at helping you regain conditioning, they are trained to help recognize and mitigate problems such as gait issues, balancing issues, imbalanced strengths.  A PT can help you start to get in shape, and provide you pointers customized to your abilities and needs. It is a good idea- especially for someone whose conditioning is so low.

    Feeling "sick" with only a little above baseline physical exertion is not a healthy response; see your licensed health care professional to find out why, and to get assistance with what you- your ownself- need to get more exercise.

    UTC 2021-06-10 07:21 PM 0 Comments
  3. You know what, just a 5 to 10 minute walk a day, and just moving around a little bit during the day - meaning, get up from sitting at least once an hour and move around - those should be good for you. 


    It's troubling to hear that more exercise makes you feel ill, and I would talk to a health practitioner about that when you next go for a visit. But for now, use your limitations as your wall - do what you can, and as long as you can keep it up, that may be enough for you.  I'm of the theory that the little bit of activity you can regularly maintain without putting a lot of stress on the body, that it's better than trying to do more. That movement, that regular routine of walking - that's excellent, so I'd just worry about keeping that up. You don't need to do more at this point but try to maintain at the level you're at. Don't push. Whatever is causing that ill feeling is your limitation, so respect that, and talk to your health practitioner about it when you can. But honestly, what makes for a healthy person are good diet, plenty of fulfilling sleep and rest, and some physical activity to keep the mind and body in shape. 

    UTC 2021-06-11 08:15 PM 2 Comments
  4. Well, the next step would probably be either a 2 km walk or a 1 km jog, depending on which you enjoy more.   But if your criterion is, "If it feels unpleasant, forget it!" then I fear nothing will help.  The basic physiology of muscles can be summarized as, "Stress makes strength."  So if you avoid stress, you will not get stronger.  I'm not talking about "positive attitude" or that sort of psychology; this is simply how muscles work.  Now I will lay on some psychology:  if you avoid all physical stress, you will probably start avoiding all stress of any kind.   That's not much of a life, IMNERHO. 

    UTC 2021-06-10 04:07 PM 0 Comments

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