Being physically active is fun and feels good. Remove the evil word exercise from your vocabulary, substitute the words physical activity, and see how your attitude immediately becomes more positive. Most people don't like to exercise, but who doesn't like to move their body? Just imagine for a minute, if you couldn't move, how much you would suddenly want to. Since you are graced with the ability to move, take advantage of it. Explore different activities and find those that feel good to you.
On the Move
Since you're looking to be active 30 to 90 minutes each day, you'll want to have a variety of activities in your repertoire. You can do many activities by yourself, but others are better suited to a group or a partner.
In fact, it's a good idea to find an "activity buddy" who wants to make lifestyle changes, too. There may be a day when you're not in the mood to be active but your buddy will encourage you to get moving. One of the special things about physical activity is that it boosts your mood as well as your metabolism. Your mood will perk up after the activity, and you'll be glad your buddy encouraged you. Undoubtedly there will be a chance for you to return the favor. Have an alternative plan if your buddy can't make it. Don't let that impact your routine -- go ahead and keep your appointment with yourself.
Lack of time is the most common reason people are not physically active. But taking care of your body through activity is just as important as nourishing it or keeping your doctor's appointment. What can you do to make time for activity?
- Get up half an hour earlier. That might mean turning off the TV a half hour earlier the night before so that you still get the rest you need. You can record the end of your TV show, and watch it the next day.
- Delegate a few duties to other family members to give you the time you need to take care of yourself and be more active.
- Use your lunch hour. Take a walk or go to a nearby gym if you can.
A Little More Here, A Little More There...There are many opportunities to be more active in your daily routine. You'll be surprised at how easily you can fit in a little bit of activity here, a little more movement there. At first it's 10 minutes, then 20, then suddenly you've worked 30 extra minutes of movement into your day without doing any structured type of activity. Make a game of it -- it can be fun! Encourage family members to join in, and you'll all become healthier together.
- Put away the remote controls. Getting up every time you want to adjust electronic equipment burns more calories than pressing a button.
- Talking on the phone? Put on a headset so that you can walk or do household chores instead of sitting.
- Waiting for the microwave? Walk or dance around the kitchen, or use cans from the cupboards as weights and pump up your arms until the microwave's done.
- Be active when you're watching TV. Lift weights, walk on a treadmill or other home aerobic equipment, jump rope (not every day, as this is hard on the joints), stretch -- there are lots of things you can do while in front of the tube.
- Give up just a percentage of your TV viewing per week and be active instead -- take a walk or do an aerobics video. This is especially painless to do if you tape your favorite shows, then watch them later and fast-forward through the commercials. You'll minimize your sitting time without missing your programs! Stay Positive Establishing new habits is tough work. Be gentle with yourself and if you slip, don't get upset. No negative self-talk! Instead, tell yourself you're going to do better from now on, and move forward. Be sure to reward and acknowledge your successes. Use nonfood rewards that you enjoy.
- When you're riding in the car, move your lower body frequently. Tap your toes, do heel-toe presses into the floor, squeeze the muscles in your buttocks together, then squeeze one side at a time, alternating sides. If you're the driver instead of a passenger, do these moves while waiting at a stoplight -- just keep your foot on the brake! Once you're at work, do the same moves occasionally while sitting at your desk.
- If feasible, walk to work or ride your bike.
- When at work, take a walk instead of sitting in the breakroom, and take a walk during part of your lunch period. Recruit a coworker or two to go with you. Soon the social aspect of talking while walking will keep you wanting to walk.
- At a sporting event? Find a place where you can pace along the sidelines rather than watch from the sitting area.
- If you're out shopping, take a couple of quick laps around the mall first. Not only does this burn calories, it has the added bonus of letting you check out the displays and plan your shopping venture.
- Take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators whenever possible. Take the stairs several times throughout the day or walk them intentionally on your break.
- Keep a pair of comfortable walking shoes in the car. Pull them out whenever you have some extra time.
- Park farther away from your destination, as long as it's safe to do so, to build in a little extra activity time. Or get off the bus or subway several stops before the one closest to where you're going. Allow extra time to walk the final distance.
- After work, school, or dinner, take a walk with the family or neighbors before settling in for the evening.
- Take the long way around when you're walking. Whether it's around the city or merely to the water cooler at the office, find the longest way possible to get there. Include hills or stairs if you can.
- Waiting at the bus stop? Walk around instead of standing or sitting.
- Get up and walk to a coworker's desk instead of calling or e-mailing.
- Sitting at a table, desk, or computer? Do the same activities described for sitting in a car -- toe tapping, toe-heel presses, and buttocks squeezes. Be sure to stretch, too; repeat several times.
In addition to being more active during your day, you'll want to make a consistent plan for daily exercise. Learn some strategies for working out regularly in your own home in the next section. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.