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The holidays are long over, and your New Year’s resolution to get healthier has started to stall out. We all want to be healthier, but our busy lives don’t always make it easy. Kids, jobs, hobbies, everyday obligations—all of these responsibilities take our time and attention away from our health. Sometimes it can feel like physical fitness is just not a priority. However, you can sneak exercise into your everyday life by utilizing a few simple tips.
Though there are many ways that you can infuse exercise into your daily routine, we have five suggestions of ways to get you moving this winter. To make sure you’re doing the exercise that’s right for you, talk to your family physician about your general health before beginning a regimen. Also consider consulting a physical trainer about your fitness goals and history. Many health and fitness clubs offer one-time consults for a reasonable fee, or maybe even include their services in your membership.
Now, put down that second bagel and read on. A healthier you awaits.
Break it up.
You don’t need to devote hours to fitness every single day, instead try smaller sessions. The American Heart Association says ten-minute increments throughout the day yield some of the same benefits as a sustained workout. So do some crunches or jumping jacks before breakfast, go for a walk on your lunch break and play Frisbee with the dog after dinner.
Mix it up.
Instead of meeting your coworkers or friends at the bar for happy hour drinks, meet them at the park for some touch football, a bike ride or a long walk. In poor weather, consider meeting for an activity that will get your blood pumping, like bowling, dancing or archery. You’re still socializing, but burning calories at the same time.
Take the long way.
Whether it’s parking further away at the store or work, opting for the stairs over the elevator, or walking to that restaurant that’s less than a mile away, these small time adjustments really do add up to a healthier you. And every time you walk to a colleague’s desk rather than emailing or calling them, you sneak in a little more exercise while forging strong workplace relationships.
Make the most of the weekend.
Turn your chores into exercise opportunities by washing your car by hand, using a push mower instead of a powered one, raking leaves or shoveling snow instead of using a blower—and get your kids in on the act, too. Making physical activity a regular part of the weekend routine will help your whole family be healthier while encouraging you to make fun memories together.
Make the most of waiting.
Focus on great posture while you stand in line to work a variety of muscles and boost your self-esteem. Waiting at a doctor’s office or at the airport means time to walk a few laps through the halls or around the concourse. At soccer practice, you can still watch and cheer while you’re walking laps around the field. Hide the TV remote and change stations the “old-fashioned” way. Or spend commercial time standing up and sitting down over and over.
These are small changes you can make right now to be healthier, but be realistic. Don’t expect to be able to run a marathon or obtain supermodel abs over night. Shoot for those ten-minute increments, then gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts. If you couple these with dietary changes—like cutting out soda, limiting sweet treats and cooking at home more often—you’ll see even more progress.
But be patient with yourself. Don’t try to “fix” all of your bad habits at once, and don’t give up if you skip one workout or overindulge on a friend’s birthday cake. Just like our favorite NFL team needs a bye week, we sometimes need a break, too. You’ll have victories and set-backs in your workout habits. Balance in your life is key, and the point is to develop the habit. Pick your routine back up after a set-back, and keep your eye on the long view. We’re often our own worst critic, but your health is important, and every small change you make adds up.
Most important of all, make your workout fit your life, not the other way around. Choose an activity you love and a time of day that works for you. Love to socialize? Join a Zumba class or commit to meeting friends for a morning walk twice a week. It’s often harder to skip a workout if your friends are counting on you to show up. Prefer to go it alone? Get some exercise DVDs from the library and do them at home, or take a solo walk or jog to clear away the noise of the day. Once you gain some confidence in yourself and your abilities, you might just join that volleyball team or sign up for that Latin dance class. Whatever works for you, keep doing it. Your fitness goals are probably closer than you think.