An active lifestyle doesn’t have to feel like a chore.
Adding exercise into your daily routine does more for you than keep you fit. It can also:
- Improve your mood
- Boost your energy level
- Combat chronic conditions
- Help you sleep better
- Relieve stress
- Be fun!
We all tend to have busy lives. And sometimes adding one more thing, even if it’s “just” a few minutes a day, feels impossible. So how do you find the time to make fitness a part of your life? We’ll help you come up with ideas to work exercise into your day in a way that’s meaningful to you.
Step One: Start with Activities You Enjoy
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I should exercise more” or “I wish I could run a 5k”? Have you ever started a fitness program only to give up after a few days? You’re definitely not alone. But what if you approached exercise with this question: “What am I really good at?” or this one: “What do I love doing?”
A positive approach is the first step to any healthy lifestyle change. Maybe you drink plenty of water every day, or you take your dog on long walks every weekend. Focusing on your strengths can give you confidence. And it can help you figure out how to tackle those not-so-healthy habits you want to change. Like not getting enough exercise.
Consider what makes you happy. Think about what you’re already doing that might make it easier to get more active.
- If you enjoy reading, why not listen to an audiobook while walking or using a treadmill?
- Is your personal time limited because your kids are constantly on the go? Find ways to be active with your kids, like taking a martial arts class or organizing active play dates.
- Do you enjoy being social? Find a fitness class, walking group or biking club.
- Need a few minutes away from your desk at work? Go outside and take a brisk walk.
- If you’re looking for a few quiet moments to connect with yourself, try yoga.
Rather than dreading the exercise you “have” to do, look forward to the next audiobook chapter, hour of fun with your family, or opportunity to catch up with friends.
And if it doesn’t work out at first, remember that you learn something about yourself every time you attempt to make a change. Use that knowledge to begin your next journey.
Step Two: Try Something New for 30 Days
You don’t have to commit to running a marathon to get your fitness journey started. But you do have to start somewhere. You’ve thought about what makes you happy and what’s important to you. Maybe you’ve jotted down a few ideas about activities you want to try. Now take the next step: make a 30 day commitment.
You can accomplish a lot by trying something for just 30 days. Thirty days is how long it takes to form a new habit (or break an old one).
So give yourself a 30 day challenge. And if you want, get your family or friends involved! Remember to start from where you are, and always talk with your doctor before starting a new fitness program.
Here are a few ideas, but in the end, you want to come up with a challenge that you feel good about fitting into your life.
- Go for a walk outside every day, rain or shine (or snow)
- Commit to following your Couch to 5k program
- Play outside with your kids
- Take the stairs instead of using elevators or escalators
- Go to a fitness class twice a week
- Start a strength training routine
The first 30 days may lead to a permanent change, or you may find that you adopt a more moderate (and healthier) long term approach.
Thirty day challenges are called challenges for a reason: they aren’t always easy. Most people start out strong but encounter barriers along the way. As you overcome challenges to get healthier, you may find that it becomes easier to deal with adversity in other parts of your life.
Step Three: Make it Part of Your Life; Find Time to Be Active; Take it to the next Level; Make a Commitment to Your Health
Ready to get moving? If you’re wondering how much time you should devote to your routine, consider following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s weekly exercise recommendations.
Weekly exercise recommendations:*
- Heart-pumping cardio exercise:
- 2 hours 30 minutes per week at a moderate intensity (like a brisk walk)
- 1 hour 15 minutes per week at a vigorous intensity (jogging/running)
- Or, you can mix it up and do some of each!
- Strength training:
- Include all major muscle groups(legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms), 2 or more times per week
Feeling good is a reward in itself, but who couldn’t use a little extra cash? From gift cards for completing fitness challenges to cash back on gym memberships, take advantage of your plan’s rewards and discounts.
Looking for more fitness tips and inspirational stories? Find new articles on getting healthier every week at A Healthier Upstate.