January brings with it droves of well intentioned Americans looking to make this the year that they hit the gym and stay fit. Come February, however, the majority of these people will make the decision to curl up on the couch rather than exercise after a long day of work.
The benefits of exercise
Americans are constantly inundated with reasons to exercise. Indeed, most Americans are well aware that the health benefits of exercise include weight management, cardiac health, bone health, mental health, reduced risk of developing diabetes, and stress reduction. In addition, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that exercising moderately 5 times a week can boost your immune system.
So how can you get yourself out there? Here are a few tips to help you meet your exercise goals this year:
- Always be prepared. Pack a gym bag and put it in the trunk of your car. That way, if you get out of a meeting early or the inclination strikes, you can get a workout in.
- Schedule your workout. Scheduling your workout makes you more accountable. It also forces you to determine when you will work out and how it will fit in with your overall schedule.
- Find an activity you enjoy. Those who stick with their exercise programs actually like to exercise. They even look forward to it. If you are not a gym rat, don’t force yourself to go to the gym. Find other physical activities that you can look forward to: join a walking club, try rock climbing, go snowshoeing or cross country skiing, play soccer with the kids. It doesn’t matter what you do, just get your body moving.
- Don’t make it a production. The US Department of Health and Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. If you choose to exercise moderately, this adds up to just 20 minutes of exercise each day. Stop thinking you don’t have enough time to exercise. Walk on your lunch break; do calisthenics while your toddler is watching Word World; shovel your driveway one afternoon. In short, move when you can, no matter how much time you have, because it all adds up.
- Surround yourself with like-minded people. When you are working to build physical activity into your daily routine, it is useful to build a support system of people that have similar goals. Having a workout buddy that shares a passion for Saturday yoga classes makes getting their easier. Friends can also help you stay on track by sharing advice and tips. According to New York Times writer Clive Thompson, you may even find your friend’s good habits contagious, leading to a strengthening of your own good habits.
Want to read more? Subscribe to Christine Harmon’s articles using the Subscribe button above.