This morning I worked on an old friend of mine who I went to high school with. While in high school she was selected to be in a very competitive ballet program that was associated with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. As anyone who knows dance can attest, dancers are in phenomenal shape. And she was no exception. While in high school she was a high level athlete and in great physical shape. Now, 20 years later, having 2 children and being a stay at home mother, have taken thier toll on her body. The last time she exercised consistently, was 7 years ago, right before the birth of her 1st son.Now, after 7 years of not exercising, she is ready to get back into shape. Her instincts are the same as most people who want to get back into shape after a few years of inactivity. She wants to start back pretty much where she left off. So I talked to her and helped her get a reasonable and realistic plan for getting back into exercising.No matter how good of shape you were in at one point, if you haven’t exercised consistently for over a few months, then you have to start back at the beginning. let alone if you haven’t exercised consistently for a few years or more. When I say exercise consistently, I mean exercising at least 2 times a week for a 2 or more months. That is consistent.So with this friend of mine, I recommended starting with some low intensity cardio-vascular exercising for 20 minutes 3 times a week, followed by 1 abdominal exercise, 1 low back exercise, and some stretching. And she is to do this for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks then she can bump up the cardio to 30 minutes. She is to then do this for another 2 weeks, and then she can think about adding in some weights and increasing the intensity of the cardio.If she were to start back at close to what she had been doing 7 years ago there would only be 1 outcome: she would end up having to stop exercising within a month or 2 because she would hurt/ injure something. Her muscles wouldn’t be in shape to handle the exercises she did years ago because she hasn’t been using thmem at all. So she would be able to handle what she did years ago for a little while, but usually within a month or 2 it will catch up to her. She will end up pulling a muscle or straining and ankle or throwing her back out, to name a few potential injuries that could follow doing too much at once. Her muscles are just not in shape to handle hard core exercising yet. She has to get her muscles into shape to start exercising.Taking her time to get into exercise will accomplish a few things. First off it will allow her to figure out how and when to fit exercise into her already busy routine. She might think that she will exercise in the evenings only to find out that realistically something always comes up in the evening and more times than not she ends up not being able to fit her exercise in after dinner. Maybe she finds out that while it sucks, getting up early before the kids is the only time she’ll be able to reliably get in her workouts. Easing her way into exercise will also allow her to get into shape to start really exercising. It will allow her body to get used to exercising so she can go harder and get into better shape as time goes on. Instead of starting out really hard and hurting herself and having to stop. If she takes her time getting into shape then she will establish exercise habits that she will be able to stick with for the rest of her life. And it is much more imortant to exercise a little, but consistently, for her entire life than a lot here and there and inconsistently throughout her life. Inconsistencey with exercise will only lead to injury. Because your muscles will not be in shape enough to handle the exercises that you are doing.If you can establish realistic and reliable exercise habits, you will be able to stick with them longer. Overall you’ll get into much better shape, lose more weight, and keep it off, than if you were to do it inconsistently. And the better shape you are in, the less injuries you will have and the less overall pain you will have, and will get, in the future.