Easy Ways to Ease Into Exercise
Getting in better shape doesn’t have to be a major chore. The important part is that you get started, so make it easy on yourself. And don’t forget: a few minutes of activity each day counts. Here are some ideas to help you get in the fitness groove and ways to keep you going.
- Take a walk. If you’ve been sedentary recently, start with a 10-minute walk at a brisk pace for aerobic activity. Each day, add to that with the goal of building up to 30 minutes or more per day. Bring a friend or your dog along to make it fun. Also, when you’re at the store, park farther away to get in a few extra steps. Take the stairs when possible. Look for other ways to get your cardio in and keep it interesting. For example, if you have access to an indoor or heated pool in the winter, swim laps.
- Muscle-Strengthening - The American Heart Association recommends starting off strength training with moderate intensity using resistance or weights and focusing on the major muscle groups. Ideally exercise, at least two days per week to help increase bone strength and muscular fitness. Plus, strength training during weight loss can help maintain muscle mass. Lifting hand weights, doing push-ups and planks, or carrying heavy loads all count as strength training. So does vigorous gardening! Eight to 12 reps can be beneficial to start off.
- Flex-It! Stretching, dancing and other activities that require more flexibility can increase your joints’ range of motion, which can help your body perform better and be less prone to injury.
- Move more, sit less. It seems pretty basic, but it’s key to a healthier lifestyle when combined with good nutrition. The Physical Guidelines for Americans (2nd Edition) says, when it comes to physical activity, “some is better than none.” Even replacing sitting with a light-intensity activity can provide health benefits. Find reasons to move throughout your day, whether it’s going to get a glass of water, having a walking meeting or jumping rope with your child.
- Schedule time every day and stick to it. It will quickly become a new and good habit. You may be surprised to find how quickly you start to have more energy, feel better and even sleep better.
- Make it social. Join a class or recreational league (volleyball, kickball, softball, pickleball, etc.). Get a workout partner or your significant other to join you. Together, you’ll keep each other motivated.
- Get a fitness tracker or watch to monitor your daily and weekly progress.
- Reward yourself with a healthy smoothie after your workout or a new pair of fitness shoes for completing a personal goal.
- Kick it up a notch with a friendly competition (such as a weight-loss or fitness challenge with colleagues) for fun prizes at various intervals. This can be another motivator that brings out your competitive side. Whatever works, right?
- For optimal results, eat a balanced healthy diet full of leafy greens, fruits and vegetables and lean protein. You’ll see results even faster and make your daily workout that much more worthwhile.
Any new routine can take a little getting used to, so take it gradually and if you feel winded or out of breath, give yourself a break. If you need assistance coming up with an exercise plan to achieve your goals, look online or consider working with a personal trainer. Whatever you do, make time for physical activity. Your long-term health and well-being is worth it!