Whether you are trying to lose weight, lower cholesterol, control or prevent diabetes, or just have more energy you need to move. It seems like getting started is the easy part, but for many sticking with it is challenging. The good news is, if you start off with a good plan to match your good intentions you are more likely to make physical activity a habit rather than a chore. Ideally you should include some aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming as well as stretching and strength training. But none of that matters if you don’t stick to it. So, the most important factor in planning physical activity is finding one or more things you enjoy doing. You may need to try a few things so that you discover what will work with your schedule and what will keep you coming back. Before you start it may be helpful to think about all of the positive changes being active can offer, such as, more energy, lower cholesterol, prevent or manage diabetes, more muscle mass…look better, feel better. This can help to motivate you. Then think about what interests you, things you have done in the past or things you have never tried like yoga or spinning. The next thing to keep in mind is to be realistic. If you have only one hour to exercise, don’t join a gym that’s thirty minutes away. Figure out how much time you have, and avoid rationalizing that you don’t have enough. We all have some time—so plan and then go do something you enjoy.
Think about what you enjoy in life in general and figure out how to add activity to it. If you like going to the beach try brisk walks on the beach or beach volleyball. Being active offers good opportunities to connect with the environment. Hiking a trail or canoeing down a river can be very relaxing and a good way to clear your mind, just you and the outdoors. Even walking a city street lets you experience the weather, and a sunny day or a snowstorm puts a new face on a familiar landscape.
There’s also the type of the activity itself to consider. Some people prefer the mental and physical state they experience by performing a technically challenging activity such as skiing or rollerblading. Some prefer games of strategy and teamwork, such as soccer, basketball, or bike racing. Other people choose activities that are more of a solo endeavor, such as swimming, running or walking. Many like a broad range of activities and would rather do something different each day.
Finding a match between exercise and your everyday life is a matter of meeting your needs in a way that creates balance. If the exercise helps establish that balance, you are likely to keep at it. It’s also a matter of having an adventurous spirit, trying new experiences at every opportunity.
Before you get started try asking yourself the following questions:
Why do I wish to increase my physical activity?
In the past, what challenges prevented me from being consistent? Why?
What can I do differently this time?
How much time do I have per week and per day to devote to physical activity?
What activities can I do that will ensure that I will have fun?
What environments motivate me the most?
Are there other friends or family that I can exercise with?
What activities meet my needs on a physical, social, and emotional level?
What will I need to get started?
What specific date will I get started? (Schedule it and put it in your calendar)
What can I do TODAY?