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I'm out of shape. I'm the kind of person who usually spends almost 10 to 16h a day in front of the computer nowadays but in the past I at least experienced or practiced about 10 different martial arts styles and tons of other sports. Thanks to my sedentarism nowadays, besides losing most of my muscles, I lost elasticity and good part of my health. As I was also a smoker during this period (thankfully I stopped this April and now have an aversion towards cigars) I have no stamina whatsoever thanks to that, a few problems with my joints, specially the knees that hurt even when idle, there are not many exercises or routines I know of that I could do without feeling like I'm about to die in a few seconds after I start, besides dizziness and a lot of nausea, sometimes even vomit (yeah, it's that bad and that's just the start).

My question is, does anyone know of really low impact exercises with a slow progression routine towards more normal ones?

My objectives are to develop strength, speed, stamina, and elasticity. I don't care about growing muscle; I want to be able to practice and perform the martial techniques I remember, and to learn a bit of "tricking".

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    You need to be more specific about the exercises you can and can't do. How many air squats does it take to make you vomit? – Dave Liepmann Nov 3 '14 at 21:17
  • It's not that easy for me to vomit, mostly I get to nausea and usually with things that require a lot of stamina, like running, jumping, things that require the heart, lungs or makes me shake too much too often. One of the problems is my joints. I actually went to an orthopedist and it seems they are not in that very good a state. I did a bit of RPG and remember some of the exercises but had problems getting there because of the distance. I kept on going on my own and am in a state I can barely exercise again, so I don't want to lose momentum. Biggest problem, knees, but getting better slowly – Gabriel Canongia Nov 3 '14 at 21:23
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It sounds like you are making a good effort to get back in shape. Quitting smoking was a good start. You say that you have seen the orthopedist, but you may also want to have a general checkup and discuss your health with your doctor - you know what they say about checking with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Given that you have joint problems, here are some ideas to get your conditioning back without aggravating your knees:

  • Aquatic Exercise - If you have access to a pool, aquatic exercise can be a great way to start getting back into exercise. You can get a good cardio workout, run in water, swim, stretch, do martial arts and strengthen with water exercises. The water reduces the impact on your joints and can provide resistance for gentle strengthening.
  • Walking - Walking should be a basic part of your program. As @Dave points out, Couch to 5k is a good way to go. If your knees are a problem, try a pair of Nordic Walking poles as they can help relieve some of the stress on your joints while giving you a better workout. A pedometer can add some motivation. Your goal would be a minimum of 10,000 steps per day.
  • Cycling or Stationary Cycles - Cycling is a good exercise to get a cardio workout without impact.

  • Strength or Resistance Training - I understand that "growing muscles" is not one of your priorities. However, some of your joint pain may improve with better strength. For example, if you strengthen your hip muscles they can lessen the stress on your knee joints. This answer gives some specific exercises to strengthen the hips without aggravating the knees.

    You also want to strengthen your core muscles. Prolonged sitting causes a combination of muscle tightness and weakness. Body weight and resistance band exercises are easy to add during short breaks. Once you have good basic core strength back, you can add weights. The good news is that you have been active in sports and martial arts in the past so your muscles will respond well and enjoy being used again.

  • Flexibility - Yoga is a great way to regain your flexibility. Put together a short routine that takes your body thru full ranges that you can do daily. For example, Child's Pose for flexion, Cobra for extension of the spine, and a Spinal Twist will help you gain and maintain overall flexibility. This stretch will help with your hamstrings and hip muscles.

Good luck. Go slowly. You will make more progress if you don't overdo.

  • Thanks a lot - that was mostly the kind of answer I was wanting, I'll try to do most, if not all, of what you said ^^ really, thank you! – Gabriel Canongia Nov 5 '14 at 19:18
  • I have access to Ipanema's Beach, like, 2 blocks away but never go, you just gave me a reason and a bit more motivation towards it, thanks ^^ Really, really appreciated! – Gabriel Canongia Nov 5 '14 at 19:21
  • Even better! Enjoy Impanema for me. – BackInShapeBuddy Nov 6 '14 at 18:00
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I would try something like Couch to 5k or hiring a trainer at a gym. You need a lot of guidance. Progressing from not-fit to a serious routine takes a lot of knowledge and a willingness to pay for your mistakes in injury.

  • The problem with a trainer at a gym would be the price =/ my family is a little low on money and I'm unemployed, nowadays, so that's kind of out of option. Here in Brasil any good gym is highly expensive, and that is with a gym trainer, no personal ones unless you can pay big bucks. At most they'll check on you once when you shout that you are done about 3 times. Also, I don't really want to get all muscled up, no serious routine needed, I want to get fit enough so I can re-practice what I've already learned and try to learn some new stuff. In the mean time, I'm looking for ways to make money. – Gabriel Canongia Nov 3 '14 at 21:55
  • @GabrielCanongia If you're not looking for a "serious routine" then you need to re-evaluate exactly how much of a change you are going to expect. You have a busted up body and are on a path to long term disease and injury. If you're not motivated enough to follow a "serious program" then I hope you're willing to deal with the "serious health effects" that come soon. Either make time for health or make time for being sick: there's no third choice. – Eric Nov 3 '14 at 22:27
  • I think you didn't quite understand what I meant with "serious routine" .-. ... translating: I don't want to make my routine the main focus of my life, I want to build it up to a state in which I'm comfortable with my body and then adapt it so as to only keep my body in that state and turn that into a habit which I can keep everyday, but thanks to my issues and personality disorders it needs to be flexible. I'm not into getting muscled to attract chicks or any of that shit, I want to build my self up so I can train and perform the techniques I already have in my brain. – Gabriel Canongia Nov 4 '14 at 2:08
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Walking and Weightlifting

Walking is a fine starting point for overall fitness, and to combat the problems associated with sitting at a desk for long periods.

If you're completely new, just about ANY sort of resistance training is going to get you results. Once you've been at it for a few dozen sessions, you can start looking into more complete lifting programs.

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