August 22, 2011
Well, it’s almost the end of summer. I know some of you have been quite active – swimming, hiking, running. Others I’m sure keep saying they’ll wait for Labor Day to get back to the gym. Whichever best describes you, I have some tips to make being active your daily mantra.
Most of us are familiar with the numerous benefits of exercise and daily physical activity, but it can be challenging to find the time to work out regularly. You’ll be more successful by having the mindset of becoming more physically active rather than simply adding “exercise” to a long list of daily chores.
1. Do what you love.
Are you a dancer, runner, or perhaps a swimmer? Getting exercise by doing what you already love is a great way of incorporating physical activity into your life. Even if your favorite thing to do is play video games, there’s a way nowadays to make it active! You could play games that use motion sensor technology, allowing you to move while you play. Or pick dance titles that let you move.
If going to the gym is more your thing, find one that’s close to home, or, even better, within walking distance. You’re more likely to use that gym membership if it’s nearby. If you do have to drive there, don’t spend 20 minutes circling for a close parking spot. You’re there to work out, remember? Instead, park far away and walk all the way to the exercise machines. And don’t forget to bring your favorite music –it makes gym time much more fun!
2. Set realistic goals.
Getting some exercise, even if it’s not for the full hour you had hoped, is better than none. Don’t let the perfect workout be the enemy of good. Go easy on yourself at first. No one, especially your doctor, is expecting you to run a marathon the first day. Even 30 minutes of activity broken up into three 10-minute segments throughout the day has a proven benefit. If you haven’t been active in a long time, try aiming for even 5-10 minutes of activity. Remember, slow and steady wins the race every time. Too often, people set lofty goals and then become frustrated when they can’t reach them.
When setting exercise goals, I often tell patients to decide whether you’re a morning gym person or an afternoon/evening type. Believe me - you know which one you are! Working out in the morning can give you energy for the whole day and keeps your metabolic rate up – but if you are a zombie before that morning coffee, it’s not going to work. Evening workouts after work can be perfect for folks who get a second wind after 5 pm.
3. Move while at work.
Again, this is where having the mind set of moving and being physically active can really help. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to speak with people rather than calling them or emailing them. Go old-school! In the age of online social networking, nothing beats old-fashioned, real face-time.
Stand, rather than sit, whenever you can. While waiting for those photocopies, do some stretches at the copier. Sure, it might look a little strange at first, but you might actually live longer! During your lunch hour, take a walk outside around the building.
4. Be active at home.
Exercise while watching your favorite TV show. Come on – is it really that hard to do a few pushups or sit-ups during commercial breaks? Try it!
5. Find a buddy or partner to exercise with you.
Nothing ensures success like having someone to motivate and push you on those days when you’d rather just be lazy or quit. Getting your kids involved in sports can also help them learn healthy habits early on and is a great bonding experience for everyone.
6. Take a vacation.
Yes, you read that right! Let the next vacation be one that incorporates some physical activity like hiking. Tour a new city by walking, jogging or biking. Sorry, Segway tours don’t count.
7. Keep a journal.
Keeping a record of your goals and accomplishments is one way to give yourself a pat on the back when you see how far you’ve come. It also helps to have those fitness goals written down somewhere. And if you really want to be bold - tell your friends your goals; that way, they’ll be asking you about it every so often!
Being active isn’t meant to be painful. Many times, it can actually be fun. See how these tips can help improve your fitness level. The little changes you make to your lifestyle now can yield big results. Years from now, your body will thank you for it!
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