We all want to feel good. And some of us have more obstacles than others, due to unfortunate genetics and/or bad luck, to achieving that goal. It has been definitively proven, however, that we all can benefit from increased physical activity! It can be the least expensive, most convenient way to improve your everyday quality of life. But how does a sedentary individual embrace exercise, rather than dread it? Here are some pointers:
(1) Think small. It can be very intimidating to go to the doctor and learn you are way over your “ideal body weight!” The task of getting from “here to there” seems impossible. It is essential to remember that even small steps in right direction will improve your health, balance, stamina and self-image. Sure, it is recommended that we all exercise vigorously for at least 30 minutes at least 3 times a week; but that is a goal, not a rule. So if you are busy and tentative, don’t spend a $1000 on a treadmill, try doing 30 minutes that first day, hate it and banish it to the basement! Rather, set your goal low enough that you are sure to succeed. Walk briskly for 60 seconds, then disembark. Keep doing this several time a week until that little voice in your head, which keeps saying “this is silly, I can do more than that”, gets so loud you can ignore it no longer. Then “allow yourself” to do 2 minutes per session, again, until your inner self suggest it is ridiculous not to increase it to 3 minutes. And so forth and so on…..This simple change of approach helps a lot of people fan that tiny ember that we all have within us, that spark that made us run and play freely when we were kids. It allows us to want to move, and once you feel that, you are well on the road to better health, even if the pounds stay put.
(b)Think fun. There are many, many ways we can get our bodies moving. You’ll be much more like to want to be active if you are doing something enjoyable! Rollerblading, jogging, Wii, swimming, hula hooping, jump roping, rockwall climbing, bicycling, skiing, surfing, rowing—there usually is something that stimulates your interest. Pursue it! Even if there is expense to necessary equipment and lessons , and/or there is a potential for injury, it is still an overall great investment in your future well-being. Interestingly, though, that most basic/”low tech” activity of all , walking, remains the exercise with the best continuation rate. Whether at the gym or around the block or through field and forest, walking is an enjoyable tool for health.
(c)Think friends. Doing physical activities with someone you like has multiple benefits. It makes the time go faster. It help you stick to an agreed upon schedule and goal. And, as your friends get healthier along with you, they will become more appreciative and cautious about their health. You’ll find you’re not the only one opting for a side salad instead of fries, having the fruit rather than the pastry. It’s therapeutic peer pressure!
(d) Think money. No doubt about, it is cheaper to be fit. Statistically speaking, regular exercise makes you less likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression and osteoporosis. That means less primary care, specialist and emergency room visits. It also correlates with a reduction in surgery and hospitalization rates, and of course, you’ll likely enjoy lower insurance costs. And that is just the individual savings. As a nation, we all will benefit from the reduced cost of health care achieved were every citizen to increase their daily exercise.
So, push yourself gently, try to make it fun, do it with friends, and think of all the money you are saving! Start up a little exercise plan today. The benefits will surprise you.