There’s no better time to consider adding fitness to your life than right now. We all know it’s good for the body, building stronger bones and leaner muscles while healthy for the heart. But the mental health benefits of getting in a few good workouts a week can offset some of the stress we may be feeling.
Get fit without hitting the gym
More and more people are setting up home gyms and finding they work well because they remove the hassle of the commute, not to mention, the privacy makes for a less self-conscious experience.
There’s a wide array of basics you can buy to get your home gym started including yoga mats, resistance bands, or weights without breaking the bank.
Take it outside
It’s free and, depending on where you live; it can be a great way to get fit with friends. In the winter, that could be skiing, jogging or walking. And in the summer, you can add biking, hiking and swimming.
Add wearable technology
Whether it is a Fitbit or an Apple Watch, wearable technology is a popular and proven tool for people wanting to track their activity. You can keep tabs on everything from your daily step totals to the amount of time you sleep, your heart rate and more. It can be very motivating to track your progress.
It can be old-school in a journal or online with one of the many apps available that help you keep track of where you are and where you’re going.
You already have what it takes to get started
And by that, we mean your body. Bodyweight exercises like squatting, lunging, pulling, pushing, pressing and rotating, for instance, are some basic bodyweight exercises.
This is a great example of how to string several exercises together for a full workout relying on nothing but your body weight:
- Bodyweight squats — 45 seconds
- Alternating lateral lunges — 45 seconds
- Jumping jacks — 45 seconds
- Pushups — 45 seconds
- Glute bridges — 45 seconds
- Repeat three times
Rest about 15 seconds between each set or longer if you need to.
Five Step Fitness Program
If anyone can speak to the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of starting a fitness program, it’s the medical experts at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. So, what do they say?
“Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight — and even improve your sleep habits and self-esteem.”
Here’s a summary of their five steps to get you going. Read the full details on each step here.
- Assess your fitness level
Find a baseline of your current fitness. This can be several things like how long it takes you to walk 1 km or how many pushups you can do.
- Design your fitness program
Set a goal for what you want to accomplish and write it down. Start low and progress slowly, don’t try to do too much too soon. Include different activities to keep it fresh and build the activity to fit into your daily routine. Don’t overdo it and allow time to recover.
- Assemble your equipment
It may be as simple as a good pair of running shoes or a few weights, or you may want to consider purchasing equipment like a treadmill or a bike.
- Get started
Start slowly and make gradual gains. Be flexible to fit your exercise routine into your daily life. If you aren’t feeling well or life is busy, take a day or two off.
- Monitor your progress
Check your performance against your baseline after six weeks and then again, every few months to track your improvement. Adjust your goals as you go and be open to the idea of trying new activities to keep things interesting.
Of course, you have excuses for why you shouldn’t exercise. We know because we have them too! But we have some good considerations for common reasons people use when they want to avoid a workout.
I’m too busy
Solution: “Even the busiest of us can find free time in our day for activities that are important.”
We make time for things that matter. If you commit to adding some fitness to your life, you’ll make it happen. Some ways to work with a busy schedule are to opt for shorter workouts or doing longer ones on the weekend or when you’re not working.
I’m too tired
Solution: We’ve been there, too.
“It may sound counterintuitive, but physical activity is a powerful pick-me-up that actually reduces fatigue and boosts energy levels in the long run.”
I’m too old, heavy or out of shape
Solution: These are excellent reasons to make exercise a regular part of your life. It’s never too late to start building your strength and physical fitness, even if you’re a senior or a confessed couch potato who has never exercised before. Very few health or weight problems rule exercise out of the question, so talk to your doctor about a safe routine.
It’s too difficult or painful
Solution: “‘No pain, no gain,’ is an outdated way of thinking about exercise. Exercise shouldn’t hurt. And you don’t have to push yourself until you’re soaked in sweat or every muscle aches to get results. You can build your strength and fitness by walking, swimming or even playing golf, gardening or why not cleaning the house.”
I’m not athletic
Solution: You don’t have to be ultra-coordinated or an accomplished athlete to get fit. Instead, look for easy things to work into your routine to boost your activity levels. Anything that gets you moving will work.
Take a walk over the lunch hour through a scenic park, window shop while walking laps in the mall (which gets you inside and out of the cold in the winter and heat in the summer,) or run, bike or hike with a friend.
Following an exercise plan can be an extremely rewarding experience. To summarize:
- Set realistic goals and work towards them, one step at a time.
- Progress may be slow to start. Don’t be hard on yourself. You’re worth it.
- Yes, now is a good time to buy new sneakers and some basic equipment and maybe invest in an activity-tracking device.
- Getting two to three workouts in a week is a great start.
- Find out what works for you. Consider your current fitness level and make a safe and steady plan — which in some cases may mean talking to your doctor.
- Have fun with it and try different activities to find something you enjoy.