Physical activity is part of the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity doesn’t just mean keeping to a regimented fitness routine. There are lots of ways you can add exercise to your day so you can reap the benefits without breaking a sweat. If you prefer a strenuous workout, that’s great, too! Just know that even getting up from your work desk every hour and taking a lap around the parking lot has health benefits.
1. Do a reality check: Be completely honest with yourself about how fit you are. Start off slowly. Many people bite off more than they can chew in the beginning, which leads to frustration, making it more likely that you’ll stop before making real progress. Pick something you like so you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Keep a record of your progress so you can see how far you’ve come.
2. Set a fitness goal and make a plan: Want to run a 5K but you’ve never run before? Maybe you want to move from a 5K to a 10K. Would you love to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded? Wherever you’re starting from, be sure to start with a plan. Create realistic goals and reward yourself (without food!) when you reach them. Speak with someone who has experience doing what you want to do for pointers. Try to schedule your workouts as you would any other appointment.
3. Recruit a buddy: You’re less likely to bail on a workout if you know a friend is waiting for you. Seek out a friend who has a “you can do it” attitude; that positive energy is contagious and will keep you going after the initial excitement of starting something new wears off. An activity partner is also good for any emotional support you may need along the way. If you need to meet with a coworker, walk over to their desk instead of sending an email, or suggest taking a walk outside instead of sitting in a conference room.
4. Fuel your body: Physical activity burns calories so you may find you’re hungrier once you start moving more. Pay attention to your hunger and satiety signals. Choose whole foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Balanced eating will keep your energy stores full and help build muscle. Water is also a type of fuel. Your body doesn’t work as efficiently if it’s dehydrated so aim for at least 8 cups of water each day, before, during, and after your physical activity.
5. Don’t give up: Some days will be easier than others. Life gets in the way sometimes and you may miss a workout because you’re sick or because you simply need a break. The key to continuing your success is to not throw in the towel if you miss a few days. Everyone misses days, but people who stick with their routines don’t let those missed days derail their overall success. Progress is made slowly over time, so pick up wherever you left off and keep up the great work!
Physical activity is a fun way to start building your healthy lifestyle. Every little bit helps, so whether you want to try an indoor cycling class or be able to play catch with your kids, your journey starts with the first step!