Exercise is such an important piece to overall health of the body but it also plays a large role in our mental health. Research has shown that people who exercise on a regular basis not only feel better, they are more energetic, think more clearly, have less bouts with anxiety and depression, and they sleep better at night.
The hardest part of exercise is getting started. If you’re someone who never exercises, the thought of going to a gym or running a mile is not only overwhelming, it’s simply out of the question. Here are a few tips to help you jump into this new habit:
- START SMALL – don’t set a goal of 60 minutes 5 days a week if you never intend to do it. Instead, do 15-30 minutes every single day. The best way to form a habit is to do it every day and exercise needs to become a habit. Start with a leisurely walk around the block. Once you establish that isn’t so bad, turn it into 2 blocks, or time yourself and see if you can walk it faster than you did the day before. Just keep adding blocks.
- BUDDY UP – find a friend who is interested in forming the same habit and get going! It’s so much easier to exercise when you know someone is counting on you to show up. You don’t realize how fast the time goes or how far you’ve actually walked when you’re enjoying the company of a friend.
- MIX IT UP – if walking isn’t your thing, what about swimming, riding a bike, or taking a dance class? Yoga is becoming very popular and there are classes for any age and any level of ability. You can even carry small weights with you while you walk or lift weights one day and do something more active the next day. Mixing it up will keep you from getting bored.
- BE CREATIVE – don’t limit yourself to just exercising those 15-30 minutes a day. Start parking at the back of the lot when you go to the store to add a few more steps to your day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator if the chance arises. When you are sitting on the couch watching your favorite program, walk around the house during the commercial break. Take the dog for a walk more than once or twice a day.
Be proud of yourself no matter how big or small the effort is. Adding exercise to your daily routine will help boost your good cholesterol (HDL) and help lower those nasty triglycerides. It will strengthen your bones and help reduce the risk to osteoporosis. It’s a win win!!
*Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program – especially if you haven’t exercised in a long time.