I'm not fit. I'm in my early 30s. I struggle to do 10 push-ups, crunches/sit-ups hurt my back, and I can't jog more than 5 minutes without feeling exhausted. I'm not too fat, just crossing the 'overweight' line in regards to BMI.

I've picked up a few health magazines, and the proposed exercises are way out of my league - I can barely do a few push-ups, much less do them between other exercises. I find gyms a little too expensive and out of my daily route and will probably quit if I have to rely on one. I've searched on the Internet, but I can't really figure how reliable those sites and blogs are.

Right now, I'm interested in just doing about 30 mins of exercises a day before my morning shower. I figure if I can comfortably maintain a routine of 30 mins of exercise a day, I'd be in shape to go higher. If possible it should be without equipment, though dumbbells or anything available at home should be fine.

I'm not so interested in strength/muscle building, but in improving stamina, not getting diseases, improving posture, and just plain feeling good.

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    Seems like it may be what you're eating that's in need of an overhaul - then just add 30 mins of cardio. Running wears me out too and I make much more progress with a power walk on high incline. That should get you feeling good pretty quickly to start with. Maybe add some skipping with a rope and short jogs too.
    – Marty
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 5:31
  • I'd say my diet is decent. I just spend too much time in front of the computer all day, and weekends. And my metabolism has slowed down since the past decade or so.
    – Muz
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 6:57
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    Maybe try a boxing bag - thats where I started my fitness and I really loved it, which helped me stick to it.
    – Marty
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 8:00
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    The workout progression in Robb Wolf's book Paleo Solution is pretty good, if you can get your hands on a copy. Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 15:18
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    @Freakyuser Was going to post a proper follow up answer with my routine, but never had the time with it. What worked for me is the running + walking combo - my home has some nice scenery, which is really good in the early morning. I spread it out every 2 days minimum to give time to recover. Every other day, I do a few push ups, squats, pull ups. What keeps me motivated is not so much about getting in shape, but being able to do a few extra push/pull ups than I did previously.
    – Muz
    Commented Jul 5, 2013 at 16:28

3 Answers 3


Whenever we start something, we may find it boring.
So, I would suggest you for a change of mind, i.e., try different sports.
Running is good for you at this stage. You said you are unable to run continuously for more than 5 minutes. If I were you, I would rather follow the run/walk strategy. Run for 2 or 3 mins and walk for 1 min and continue this for some 3 to 4 km in the beginning . You will definitely be able to do better than now. Later when you feel good and start building stamina, you can increase the timing (4 min run and 1 min walk).

Running alone may wear you down. You can look for other alternatives:
If you are a swimmer, swim twice a week. Cover some good distance in it, say 1-2 km a week. Swimming uses many of the body muscles and it is a very good alternative.

If you prefer cycling, cycle twice a week. Cycle in your own pace for half an hour(twice a week). The distance doesn't matter, just try and stay in your comfort zone. Cycling gives you good pleasure. Or you can cycle to work.

Another good option is to join a yoga session. Find a yoga center nearby and suit yourself. It helps you relax.

As Marty Wallace suggests, boxing is a very interesting sport and one of the best options to build stamina.

Try any of these and find your interest, later build passion in it.

P.S: I too sit in front of the computer in my office, being a software professional. I train myself for triathlon.

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    After all, "Boxing is the toughest and loneliest sport" - by Frank Bruno. So it is not that easy but you can give it a try.
    – Freakyuser
    Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 10:08

For people who want to start working out but are out of shape I always suggest one main thing: taking step by step. Don't be hard on yourself. Every beginning is hard, but you will improve. It's good that you're starting your day with simple excersizes. However, seems like doing cardio is too much for you at this moment. That's why you should do excersizes that include more stretching. Yoga (for beginners) will be just fine. It will improve your posture, you will learn how to properly breathe during workout, and you will become much more flexible. After 2 weeks of everyday yoga, try simple cardio workouts and combine them with your yoga routine. First day do 5 push-ups and 5 crunches. Add 1-2 more each day and soon you will notice big difference.

  • I hope the OP actually comes back over 2.5 years later and tells us their results.
    – TestWell
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 15:41

I agree with Freakyuser's advice to simply make it not boring. Zombies + adrenaline are a surprisingly exciting combination.

Don't push yourself too hard.

Don't do a full exercise routine just because it's recommended somewhere. If I can't even do 3km, trying to do 5km will kill motivation.

Your willpower is shared between other aspects of life too, like career, family, and finances. If you have a particularly bad day, it's likely you'll end up quitting exercise early on.

I exercise only until I get my second wind. I push myself to 100%, as far as I think I can go. Then I push myself an additional 10%, something like running to the next tree or lamp post.

If you still feel like going back and not going further, then that's a good time to go back. Otherwise, it'll be discouraging to go tomorrow.

The book 4 Hour Body also has a lot of short exercises for people with little time.

For those who can't make the time to exercise, I highly suggest that you do. The most productive periods of my life have been when I was fit. You'll easily be twice as effective, especially with high-creativity jobs like programming.

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