The Best Exercises to Do If You're Out of Shape

How to get back into the swing of things

So you’re a little winded and out of shape. That’s OK. Maybe you’ve been recovering from an injury. Maybe you’ve been busy. Maybe you just…haven’t felt like exercising. That’s OK, too. The important thing here is that you’re ready to get moving again. But since a front-row spot at cardio boot camp is a little unlikely, we came up with a list of effective, accessible workouts to help you ease back into a routine.

out of shape workout hike

1. Take A (manageable) Hike

Walking is the simplest way to get back into working out. Start small, like looping around your block or walking along your community pond. Then work your way up to hilled roads and wooded paths. As long as you know your limits and go at your own pace, you can only be doing your body good.

out of shape workout tennis

2. Play A Sport

There’s nothing like monotony to turn you off a workout regimen. To avoid getting tired of whatever you’re doing, do something you actually enjoy. Whether it’s joining a recreational tennis league or shooting hoops at a local park with a friend, sports are a great way to get back in shape without boring yourself to tears (or worse: quitting).

3. Use Your Body

The importance of strength training can’t be emphasized enough, but gym weight rooms and lines of machines can be pretty intimidating. Instead, try bodyweight exercises like crunches, wall sits and push-ups, which are just as effective and can be done pretty much anywhere (and, obviously, with no equipment but yourself).

out of shape spin1

4. Take A Spin Class

Spinning is a terrific workout that’s totally modifiable. You get all the benefits of a group class (energetic peers! enthusiastic instructors!), but you control your bike’s resistance. That means, whenever you’re pooped, it’s completely fine to take a few minutes to recover inconspicuously. Spin classes are typically held in super-dark rooms, so it’s nearly impossible to see how strong (or not) anyone around you is.

out of shape exerciseyoga

5. Try Slow-flow Yoga

Flexibility is often overlooked when we think about being “in shape,” and yoga is a terrific way to get your muscles nice and limber. (That’s what helps prevent injuries in the first place.) Before jumping into handstands and other high-intensity poses, try slow-flow, which is when you hold easy poses for longer periods of time and maximize the benefits from each one. We like this sequence from Yoga Journal.

out of shape exercise swim pool

6. Swim

If you have access to a pool, swimming is an excellent option. It allows you to elevate your heart rate without putting any strain on your joints--especially helpful if you’re one of the many with a bad back. And let’s be real: It’s also really calming to be in the water. Body and mind, folks.

out of shape exercisevideo

7. Watch Workout Videos

Workout videos and streaming services are a terrific way to get keep moving, because you’re in your own home and in control of the remote. The selection online is also really robust, with instruction in exercises from yoga and kickboxing to dance and Pilates. Think of streaming services like FitFusion as a sweatier version of Netflix.

8. Use An App

Technology can basically do anything these days, so why shouldn’t it make transitioning back into fitness easier? Turns out, it can. Apps like Couch to 5K and Nike Training Club coach you every step of the way and cost infinitely less than a 45-minute session with your gym’s overzealous trainers.

Watch: No Gym Full Body Workouts To Incorporate Into Your Day

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...