We all know getting regular exercise is good for our health. But for many of us, it seems difficult and time consuming.
It might seem less difficult if you start by taking baby steps toward becoming more active. Even a little bit of increased movement can help your health. Studies show it doesn’t take much to make a difference.
One step toward that goal is to figure out what’s standing in your way. Once you identify your obstacles, you can figure out how to overcome them. Here are some common challenges and tips for dealing with them.
Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week. But for many of us, it isn’t easy to keep a regular workout schedule. Too often, life can get in the way.
A little creativity can help:
- Squeeze in multiple short walks during the day. A short burst of exercise, like a walking break, offers its own benefits. Aim for about 30 minutes total for your activity on most days.
- Try to get up earlier. Days can be hectic and evenings full of activities. Start by getting up 30 minutes earlier just one day a week to make some time for exercise before the day gets in the way. You can add another day once you’ve mastered that.
- Walk more as part of your regular daily activities. Could you walk to do that errand instead of driving? If you do need to drive, park farther away from your destination to add steps to your day.
- Look at the things you do each week and see where you can fit in activity. Could you add a walk, a bike ride or a swim to your family’s weekend calendar?
- Sitting less is a good way to start being more active. Sit at a desk all day? Try to work while standing some. Take a lap around your floor once an hour or suggest a walking meeting.
Maybe you just haven’t found an activity you love. Keep trying. Getting active doesn’t mean you have to join a gym or walk on a treadmill.
- You could try skating or dancing. You could join a sports league. It doesn’t have to be what other people are doing.
- Find other ways to make moving more fun. You could watch TV or listen to your favorite music while you exercise. You could listen to podcasts or books while working out.
- Ask friends to exercise with you. Or join a walking group.
- Keep trying different things to keep it interesting.
Activity doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re interested in joining a gym, ask your friends about where they go and look for deals. But if you’re not a gym person, there are other ways to increase your activity level. And many of them are free or low-cost.
- Take a brisk walk. Take the stairs.
- Make housework or gardening a workout. You can work up a sweat weeding your garden, vacuuming the floors or scrubbing the countertops. In between chores, you can use canned goods as hand weights and a chair for support to do leg curls.
- Your own body weight can be used in weight training exercises and resistance training. Ask your health care professional for information on the safe way to start.
- There are plenty of no-cost apps and online videos for fitness routines you can do. Your library has DVDs that you can borrow and use at home.
- Your local recreation center may offer discounts on classes and activities.
- See if you can borrow equipment from friends and share what you have with them.
Get started now.
Everyone has to start somewhere. To get going:
- Set a reachable goal for today. Don’t let an all-or-nothing mindset hold you back.
- Start by walking. It’s easy and can be done almost anywhere.
- Break it up. Try short bouts of activity during the day. Even brisk five-minute walks will add up.
Sources: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018; Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids, American Heart Association, 2018; Top Six Exercise Excuses and How to Beat Them, WebMD, 2012; Fitness for Less: Low Cost Ways to Shape Up, Mayo Clinic, 2018; Healthy Lifestyle – Fitness, Mayo Clinic, 2018