Having never been to a gym, not participated in sport for 20+ years and now feeling a need to get physically feed what the hell do I do?

I am a 35yo + 16st 6ft 3 male who probably doesn’t look incredibly unwell but I am conscious I am incredibly unfit. Ideally I just want to get active but running hurts my shins very quickly and I have no experience of training muscles. I am conscious hiring a PT is probably best but one of the main reasons I’ve never done anything is self consciousness. I am trying to break this barrier but sadly I am not there yet and had hoped to become a bit more self sufficient. When I say unfit I mean sometimes it can just take a 30 steps to put me out of breath.

What should I be looking at for easy at home exercises that can help me?

I actually thought skipping ...

  • Great question. I don't have time to write up a full answer but I like Robb Wolf's beginner program in his diet/lifestyle book The Paleo Solution. I described it in rough detail in a previous answer: a circuit of walk-or-run, push-ups (scaled as necessary), air squats, and body rows. You should be able to see a preview on page 175. Jun 20, 2020 at 10:16

3 Answers 3


If you've never exercised, your first step is to start, simple as that. I can speak from experience, of course, that it's not necessarily so easy as that. Your first few sessions, you're probably going to want to quit after a few minutes both because you start feeling out of breath and because exercise can be boring if you don't feel you're making progress. There are a ton of exercise programs out there, and choosing one means you need to figure out what you want to accomplish. If the intent is just to get moving and become more healthy, I'd recommend starting with brisk walking. It's not that terribly intensive, but it does get you moving. After that, try very brief runs, something like 30 seconds at a time, not running faster than what you can maintain while talking without getting out of breath, after a few minutes of walking. The C25k (Couch to 5k) program takes this approach and there are a ton of free (or at least free with ads) smartphone apps to help keep you on-track.

Skipping, whether it's skipping rope or the movement, is actually not such a bad idea. If requires more cardiovascular activity and muscle effort than just walking, and it can be fun. FWIW, the Six to Start app, Zombies Run 5k includes skipping and leg lifts in its version of the C25k plan and includes an amusing narrative in the process.

Aside from that, I'd say work in a few bodyweight exercises, things like pushups, squats, jumping jacks, and torso twists. The key I've found is to set yourself a goal (starting with a modest one. Ten pushups in a row may very well be beyond you, and 20 jumping jacks is more challenging than many people credit) and to push yourself with that carrot of that you "just" need to do that many. This isn't going to blast your fitness or anything like that, but it once again gets you used to the idea of exercising, and they generally don't require much warmup (warmups and cool-downs are the bane of my "quick workout" experience since they take five minutes of exercise and turn it into fifteen). Another common suggestion is "greasing the groove" by just pumping out a handful of them whenever you have a spare moment, not pushing yourself into real exertion, but just doing the movement. If you do video games or the computer, you may be able to do it during loading screens.

Above all, good on you for trying to get more exercise! Secondly, don't feel discouraged if you fall off on it a bit. Just starting this will help with your health, and taking a week off because you're busy with work, or because you overdid it in a workout, is perfectly normal, and won't really hurt you in your fitness goals.


My advice is to start out walking everyday.. the simplest exercise needs mastered. If you're out of breath, that's your energy systems needing work, not your muscles. Look up anaerobic and aerobic workouts. You should start out with cardio, walk for a couple weeks, then add a few min of jogging at the end of each session. Keep going until you are jogging more than walking. Add a couple rounds of high intensity jump roping or 10 second Sprint rounds(do 8 sets).

In addition to this, you can do high rep sets such as 20 reps which are really easy on the body and build up your endurance and lactic threshold. Decrease your weps and increase your weight.

To be honest, the first 2 or 3 weeks of working out are horrible, but your body will adapt and it'll become super easy


When you run, do not lift your toes and foot up. This will eliminate the pain on the shins.

Every time you lift your leg up, let the foot loose, relax it. Use your calf muscles only, not your shin muscles.

If you keep running like you do, which is by many considered to be bad form, eventually you will get a shin split injury or you will get used to the pain and build huge tibial muscles, one of the two. But I wouldn't risk it.

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