Fitness / Wellness
Numerous studies and experts tout the benefits of moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day. But just how important is it? According to Michael R. Bracko, EdD, FACSM, chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Consumer Information Committee, “Exercise is the magic pill. Exercise can literally cure diseases like some forms of heart disease. Exercise has been implicated in helping people prevent or recover from some forms of cancer. Exercise helps people with arthritis. Exercise helps people prevent and reverse depression.”
So how can a beginner take advantage of increasing physical activity? Figure out what will realistically work for your lifestyle and make it a priority! This doesn’t mean you go from ‘couch potato’ to marathon runner in 6 weeks. It means finding physical activity that you enjoy and will KEEP DOING. Be willing to try new things. Taking a fitness group class. Ask a friend to go with you. Walk and use stairs when possible. Life is ever changing, and your physical fitness options should be flexible to change with you.
Easy lifestyle changes that don’t include multiple hours in gym time include:
- Get a fitness tracker. Establish a baseline and find out how truly active (or inactive) you are. Many experts suggest that one way to ensure you are getting enough activity in your day is to take an average of 10,000 steps a day. There are many options from basic pedometers to the smart watches that track steps, active minutes, calorie burned, and even sleep. Figure out your current activity level and then find ways to increase the time and intensity of your activity to reach your fitness goals!
- Park farther out. Don’t waste time cruising around for that prime spot up front. Instead park your car a little further than your intended destination as a creative way to increase your steps and physical activity.
- Take up a hobby. Gardening, walking, bicycling, playing with your kids, dancing, even some household projects can be active time towards your goals if you make them so.
- Join a fitness group. There are tons of fitness and social groups dedicated to connecting people with the common interests of socializing and increasing physical activity. Whether walking, running, tennis, dancing and everything in between you can be sure to find a group that is right for you!
- Involve your family and friends. Ask those most important to you for support in reaching your fitness and activity goals. From giving advice, to joining you in a workout, to keeping you accountable are all ways to not only increase physical activity but to bond with your family and friends.
- Be flexible. An “all or nothing” approach when it comes to exercise can set anyone up for failure. Have a mindset that “something is better than nothing” will help when your workout plans change. Have a 30-minute lunch? Squeeze in 10 minutes of walking around the workplace! Have a small amount of downtime before your next daily task? Try a quick HIIT workout or a seated or standing exercises in between your next task!
- Multi-task. Create ways to increase your activity while simultaneously performing normal daily tasks. Doing dishes? Put them away one at a time. It won’t take as long as you think, but you’ll get a lot more steps in. Folding laundry? Crank up some music and do a little dancing while you fold. There are several ways to make daily activities turn into exercises when you put a little oomph into them!
To sum, not everyone enjoys long hours in the gym. But everyone can take an extra 100 steps a day. Everyone can feel good about setting and accomplishing small goals. Adding small amounts of activity can build a lifestyle change that can make physical fitness seem not like a daunting impossibility, but rather, a natural progression that takes ownership of your health and well-being.