Fitness clearly improves our lives, but getting started can sometimes be the hardest part.
To begin including more fitness into your life today, consider these tips:
1. Move more. An active lifestyle means not just scheduled exercise sessions, but actively moving more throughout your day. Sitting less and walking more. Walking or biking instead of driving. Parking in the far parking spot instead of the closest one. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Sneaking in some stretching or strength exercises while you watch tv. Walking while you talk on the phone. Lunges while you brush your teeth. The more movement you incorporate into your day, the more healthy habits you will create. And healthy habits add up and lead to lasting lifestyle changes.
2. Discover something you enjoy! The key to a successful exercise routine is finding an activity that you truly enjoy doing. If fitness is a chore you won’t be as likely to do it, you won’t enjoy it, and you won’t get as many benefits. Experiment with different types of activities such as yoga, hiking, kickboxing, cycling, Zumba, skiing, swimming, and Crossfit. Once you find an activity that you truly connect with, you’ll want to come back for more.
3. Find a buddy or a group. There is strength in numbers! Having a workout buddy or group support makes an activity more fun and motivating. You can try group exercise classes at the gym or join a local soccer or softball team. When you discover physical activities you love, you develop a sense of camaraderie, accountability, and community with others.
4. Schedule it. Just like work and social obligations, your exercise routine needs to be written into your weekly schedule otherwise, it will likely not happen! If you are consistent with the activity, you’ll see results and it won’t be as difficult to motivate yourself to continue on your fitness journey as it will become part of your regular routine.
5. Keep a log or journal. Record things such as the type of activity, the duration, intensity and how you felt afterward. Journaling your activities will motivate you to push yourself further and allow you to see improvement over time.
6. Consider a fitness tracker. Many people find fitness trackers such as pedometers, heart rate monitors, and fitness gadgets such as FitBit or BodyBugg to be helpful for motivation and tracking progress. Some of these gadgets will let you know information such as the number of steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and stairs climbed, and some even analyze sleep patterns. Expensive gadgets are certainly not a requirement for a healthy lifestyle, but often people find them helpful and fun.
7. Put yourself first! Don’t underestimate the importance of making your health priority in your life! It is all too easy to put off exercise until tomorrow, or until a time when others are not demanding so much of your time and attention. Remember that you are important and committing to a healthy lifestyle requires your dedication. Remind yourself of your goals and don’t feel guilty about your decision to take care of yourself!
8. Remember it is about progress, not perfection. All too often we get caught up in an “all-or-nothing” mentality. No one lives a perfect life or has a perfect diet or has a perfect exercise routine. Focus on improving health, flexibility, and strength, and not the numbers you see on your bathroom scale. Many people can get easily discouraged and give up on exercise take when there’s too much emphasis on weight loss. Embrace the joy and freedom of movement and inner resilience that comes with regular physical activity.