"Should I exercise in the morning or night? Should I do cardio first or last? Do I need to lift weights - and, if so, how do I stay safe?"
As you start the New Year and you want to exercise, sometimes the "what do I do?" questions keep you from starting. So, here are some guidelines to get you moving:
1. There are pros/cons physically for both morning and evening exercise. So the BEST time to exercise is when it works for your lifestyle. If you try a certain time and it doesn't work, try another time. Once you find your time, block it like any appointment for consistency.
2. If you are doing both cardio and strength training in the same session, ideally, warm up for 5 minutes, then do your strength training, then your cardio. However, unless you are doing intense cardio (intervals, etc.), you can try both ways to find your preference.
3. You do need to lift weights. It improves your bone density (and you know after last week's video how important that is to me), increases your metabolism, and keeps you strong for the activities of life now and long-term. For safety, for the first two weeks start with half the weight you think you can do. Invest in a few sessions with a personal trainer to check your form.
4. Move throughout the day. More research is coming out about "sitting is the new smoking." Every 30-60 minutes get up and walk around for 3-10 minutes. If you need to ask a co-worker a question, don't instant-message. Walk to his or her desk. If you need to take a restroom break, take one flight of stairs to the restroom on another floor.
5. Stretching after (not before) your exercise is important. Walking or another warm-up is important before your workout, but you don't want to stretch muscles that are "cold." Invest time stretching after exercise.
Of course, no matter what, try different activities to find what you enjoy. Have fun! (I guess that would be tip #6?)