A recent encouraging study found that people who are fit in middle age are less likely to be depressed and to die from heart disease when they’re older.
As an avid exerciser who works out just about as much to stay calm as to be fit, I very much understand that. But I also appreciate that people who don’t exercise might feel a little lost with this information: It sounds great, but …
If you don’t quite know where or how to start being more active, not to worry; we all begin somewhere. That said, I’m offering my own 11 tips.
They won’t help you pass a treadmill test immediately, but consider them first steps (so to speak) on that winding road to fitness. Keep in mind that good health is a process, and an ongoing one at that. Before changing up your routine, of course, check with your doctor.
—Start each morning in motion
Before even brushing my teeth, I do jumping jacks. Start with five or 10; add a few each day. Your metabolism is now officially revved.
—Set aside 10 minutes
Walk down the street for five; turn around and walk home. Feels good, eh? So repeat that a few hours later. Aim to do that three times a day or all in one fell swoop for a total of 30 minutes, the recommended amount of exercise for most days.
Again, one step at a time. Eventually you can speed it up a little, maybe walking one block quickly, one block slowly. And feel free to add minutes.
Put your workout on your calendar just like you would lunch with a friend or a haircut. You’ll develop a habit, and you’ll find yourself getting antsy if you miss it. I promise.
—Find what you like
Walk in the water at your neighborhood pool, your own pool or at the gym. Take your dog around the block a few times. Dance. Ride your bike. Just because your neighbor likes jogging doesn’t mean you have to, too.
—Savor the moments
Turn off your phone and enjoy this time just for you.
—Eliminate negative self-talk
So you only managed a 10-minute walk, or you didn’t stop at one cookie. Does that mean you’re a loser or that you blew it for the day? Of course not. You just veered off your path. Hop back on and keep looking forward.
—March in place
Do it during commercials or while your coffee reheats. So what if your kids laugh at you? Who cares? Light a fire under their bottoms, too, so they’ll join you.
—Invest in stretchy bands
These colorful, oversize rubber bands are cheap and easy to use. Mine cost about $10 for a set with varying resistance. I might hook one around each of my wrists and, keeping tension, raise my arms above my head 10 times, pause, and do it again.
—Find a fitness friend
If someone expects you to be on the corner for a 7 a.m. walk, you’re more likely to be there. Conversations make the workout go more quickly, plus are a good gauge of how much you’re putting into it. If you’re panting too much to talk, you might want to slow down a little, or alternate panting and talking.
—Remember calories still count
Try to refrain from using your workout as an excuse to load up on sugary or fatty foods. You burned some calories, but probably not enough to offset a milkshake.
—Set a goal
Not to lose X number of pounds in a week, but to move every day.
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