March 26, 2021
Spring is here, the warm air is returning, and the sunshine is bringing us out of hibernation. During the colder months and short days, it becomes more challenging to maintain an exercise routine. But now it’s time to get moving again! Let’s discuss a few important strategies that can make this process easier amidst a busy lifestyle.
First: Set a SMART Goal
This acronym stands for a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and has a Timeline. Basically, the goal you set for yourself should be able to be incorporated right into your day, and be simple yet effective enough to initiate change.
For example, maybe you determine you would like to walk more. Where does this fit into your schedule? If you have an opening in your schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, maybe your goal is to go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes each of those three days.
Determine the type of activity that is most realistic for you to start with right now and find a time to start doing it.
Second: Start Slow
You don’t need to go out and get a gym membership and start working out two hours a day, five days a week. We often jump into something new with a lot of motivation and good ideas, but it’s important to check ourselves in the beginning so we avoid burnout and injury. Carefully discover and remember your limits. Build your fitness foundation brick by brick and be patient with the process of getting where you want to be.
Third: Stay Active, Even on “Off” Days
Maybe your main form of exercise is walking Monday, Wednesday and Friday. How can you fit in just little pockets of movement throughout the rest of the week?
Maybe it’s doing 5-10 squats every hour at work to keep your blood flowing and your mind focused. Or perhaps it’s following a 10-minute yoga video right before you go to bed.
Whatever you do, try to find a form of movement you enjoy to dabble in each day. If you’ve had a sedentary winter, your body might feel a little stiff at the beginning, but after some consistency, it will remember how much it loves to move.
Fourth: Find Your Accountability Buddy
Do you have a friend who will join you in your workplace or neighborhood workout routine? Or maybe you want to get more serious and hire a personal trainer who will push you safely past your limits and make sure you get the most out of each workout? Wherever you are in your wellness journey, ask someone to travel it with you. That is one of the surest ways to help you succeed, even on the days you just aren’t feeling like it.
Here are some recommended guidelines to consider as you begin to build an exercise program.
- Cardio: The goal of cardiovascular exercise is to enhance your fitness and reduce your risk of heart disease by raising your heart rate. Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio or aerobic activity per week. You can break this down in any number of ways to suit your needs, your preferences, and your schedule.
- Strength training: Some type of weight or resistance training helps combat muscle loss. Aim for 2-3 days per week, completing 2-5 sets of work for all of the large muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms) during each strength training session.
- Stretching: Flexibility is also important for joint health and improved movement. It’s important to try to stretch all large muscle groups to the point of mild discomfort 2-3 days a week, 2-3 times per session, for 15-30 seconds per stretch.
These are simply recommendations, and meeting these minimums is a good long-term goal to shoot for rather than seeing them as something you have to start tomorrow. Whatever movement looks like for you, enjoy it and commit to being consistent. As with anything, that consistency will pay off and you will reap the benefits of feeling energized, strong, and capable of living the full life you envision for yourself.
Note: Before beginning any exercise program, check with your health-care provider about any health concerns that could impact your exercise choices.