In order to get active, healthy, and lose weight, you need to be moving in some way every single day. You know this. But easier said than done, right?
You probably also have a full schedule with lots of obligations and with no idea how to fit exercise in. Maybe you’ve tried before to exercise and it just always falls to the back of the priority list until it disappears completely. But there are millions of other busy people out there who found a way to exercise every day, and if you really want it, you can too!
Follow these steps and before you know it, you’ll be exercising every day.
- Develop the right attitude.The mind may not be a muscle, but it’s still incredibly strong, and can make the difference between succeeding and failing at your goal. Don’t start exercising because you think you should or because others do. Soak in the physical, emotional, mental, and health aspects of why fitness is important, then decide what it means to you. Are you starting a fitness program to help lose weight? Or do you have another motivation, such as preparing for a marathon? Having clear goals can help you gauge your progress. Make a list of why you want to be fit and exercise, and hang it up where you can see it. Being fit is a marathon, not a sprint, and it requires making changes to your entire lifestyle.
- Design your fitness plan. It’s easy to say that you’ll exercise every day. But you’ll need a plan. Finding time to exercise can be a challenge. To make it easier, schedule time to exercise as you would any other appointment. Sit down and really think about your daily schedule. When do you always have free time, every day? Can you wake up a little earlier in the mornings? Can you do a little something after the kids go to bed? Can you take 30 minutes on your lunch break? Most adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity — or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity — a week. Adults also need two or more days of strength training a week.
- Assess your fitness level. You probably have some idea of how fit you are. But assessing and recording baseline fitness scores can give you benchmarks against which to measure your progress. To assess your aerobic and muscular fitness, flexibility and body composition, consider recording:
- Your pulse rate before and after you walk 2 kilometers
- How long it takes to walk 2 kilometers
- How many push-ups you can do at a time
- How far you can reach forward while seated on the floor with your legs in front of you
- Your waist circumference as measured around your bare abdomen just above your hipbone
- Your body mass index
- Get someone else to get fit with you. It is much easier to reach your goals when you have someone to share the pain and the gain. Create a schedule that you can both commit to and keep each other on track.
- Incorporate more physical exercise into your daily routine. This is easy! Examples:
- Plan to watch your favorite show while walking on the treadmill
- read while riding a stationary bike.
- Take the subway or bike to work instead of driving.
- When you go shopping or to the movies park at the end of the lot instead of wrangling for a spot near the front door.
- Walk the dog more often
- Clean your house vigorously. You’d be surprised how physically taxing housework is: dusting your shelves, cleaning your toilets, doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, and cleaning the garage will definitely give you a workout.
- Plan to include different activities. Different activities can keep exercise boredom at bay. Be creative. Maybe your workout routine includes various activities, such as walking, bicycling or swimming. But don’t stop there. Take a weekend hike with your family or spend an evening dancing. Plan to alternate among activities that emphasize different parts of your body, such as walking, swimming and strength training.
- Start slowly and build up gradually. Give yourself plenty of time to warm up and cool down with easy walking or gentle stretching. Then speed up to a pace you can continue for five to 10 minutes without getting overly tired. As your stamina improves, gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. Work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
- Monitor your progress and be proud of minor improvements. It is a good idea to start a ‘fit journal’ so that you can keep track of when you work out, what you do, and for how long. You can also log what you eat each day. You may find that when you have to write down whether you snacked or not you may be less inclined to snack. Retake your personal fitness assessment six weeks after you start your program and then again every three to six months. You may notice that you need to increase the amount of time you exercise in order to continue improving. Or you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you’re exercising just the right amount to meet your fitness goals.
- Give your body the fuel it needs. As you become more active, you’ll need more food, but not just any food—you need healthy, energy-laden food that will jump-start the next phase of your day, not weigh it down. Learn how to eat healthfully and drink more water.
- Go back to Step 1. If you fall out of the daily habit of exercising along the way, don’t waste one breath beating yourself up or making it an excuse to quit. Don’t think that just because you have one setback, you may as well scrap it all and give up for the day. Don’t be discouraged if you stop losing weight or stop gaining muscle; remember that, overall, you’ve put yourself on an upward trajectory and that’s definitely something to be proud of. Do not, no matter what, give up. Reboot and start again. Start at step 1! Release any negativity, and analyze what went wrong. Could you move your workouts to a better time? Could you drop an obligation to make your workouts a priority? Do you need better motivation? Set new goals or try a new activity. Exercising with a friend or taking a class at a fitness center may help, too.
Starting an exercise program is an important decision. But it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can establish a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime. Good Luck! And now …. Off you go!
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