Weight loss, weight maintenance, an enhanced cardiovascular system, and improved muscle tone and flexibility rank among the top physical benefits of regular exercise. Mentally, exercise lifts your spirits, giving you a natural “feel good” sensation as your endorphin levels rise. It’s also a terrific way to reduce stress, particularly after a busy day at work or juggling too many things on the home front.
For those who haven’t exercised in a while, however, the thought of working out can be a source of stress in and of itself. That’s why we’ve come up with the following five tips to help you get off the couch and up on your feet!
Set mini-goals. Do as much as you can, and take pride in what you accomplish. Maybe it’s only 10 minutes the first time … but 15 minutes the next and so on. As your endurance and fitness levels improve, you’ll be able to extend your workout comfortably. And if you don’t have a lot of time, break up your activity into 10-minute “mini-workouts” throughout the day. They all add up!
Warm up and cool down. To prepare your body for activity and help prevent injury, warm up by walking in place and stretching your muscles. Do the same when you’re finished, to safely slow down your heart rate.
Listen to your body. Do a “talk test” to see if you’re exercising too hard. If you can carry on a conversation without breathing too heavily, you’re right on target. If you’re panting or having difficulty catching your breath, slow down by taking smaller steps or decreasing the intensity of your movements.
Drink plenty of water. This means before, during, and after your workout — not just when you’re thirsty. Doing so will help keep your body and muscles well-hydrated.
Have fun. This is your time, so enjoy it. If you’re walking, listen to upbeat music or chat with a friend. Feel your body getting stronger by the minute. Tell yourself how terrific you are. Remind yourself that whatever happens today, you’ve accomplished your goal of being more active.