Source: Photo credit: fotshot, pixabay.
What percentage of American adults do you think do enough exercise regularly to meet standard exercise guidelines?
According to 2018 CDC data, about 53% of adults aged 18 and over meet the guidelines for aerobic exercise – 150 minutes of light to moderate physical activity per week, such as: B. 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week. *
So there are two Americas – one that trains, one that doesn’t train. If you are currently in the sedentary 47% and want to join the exercise club, what could you do to keep yourself motivated? This post focuses on easy ways to get started on an exercise program.
First, find your motivator
Why exercise Physical activity is a magic potion that offers several benefits. Here is a brief summary of these benefits, which have been confirmed by numerous research studies:
- Benefits for the brain: Improves thinking / perception; lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia; slows age-related memory loss; leads to better sleep.
- Mental Health Benefits: Provides instant mood lift; reduces depression, stress and anxiety; leads to higher self-esteem; combats lethargy and increases energy.
- General Health Benefits: Slows down the aging process; lowers blood pressure; helps maintain a healthy weight; reduces symptoms of diseases like arthritis and Parkinson’s disease; reduces the risk of obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers; reduces the risk of premature death; reverses the decline in muscle strength and thus increases the metabolism.
- Protection against severe COVID, according to a recent study.
- Beauty Benefits: Exercise improves your appearance and self-esteem. While vanity may not be the noblest motivator as I write here, it can spur you into healthy habits.
And the biggest advantage of all:
- Life Satisfaction: Exercising keeps you functionally fit so you can do the things you need to do – like picking up a bag of heavy purchases – as well as the things you want to do, like going to art events, spending time with friends and relatives, diving immerse yourself in nature, take your dog for a walk or express yourself through creative activities. Unfortunately, sedentary lifestyle can result in lost mobility, ducking at home instead of going out, exacerbating health problems, fewer social connections and bad moods. Avoid this vicious circle!
Any amount of exercise is better than none, because even small amounts of exercise can give you some of the great benefits mentioned above.
The low way to training success
Once you’ve decided to join the practice club, what’s the best way to start?
You could set yourself high goals by investing in a gym membership, choosing to walk 10,000 steps a day, setting yourself a goal of running a marathon, or buying an expensive treadmill.
I say: forget that! Instead, make your training plan as simple as possible. Remember, any amount of exercise is better than none and will give you benefits like those listed above.
I repeat, any amount of exercise is better than none. Could you adopt this phrase as your motivational motto?
6 don’ts for easy exercise success
Below are suggestions for starting your exercise program. I’ll assume the simplest form of exercise is a walking regimen, but any exercise that you enjoy is fine.
Let’s start with a few things that you don’t need to do as a beginner. Observe these prohibitions:
- You don’t have to buy expensive equipment.
- You don’t have to invest in expensive clothes. Old clothes work.
- You don’t have to take 10,000 steps. According to this article, great benefits start with just 4400 steps.
- You don’t have to join a gym.
- You don’t have to sweat. Exercise can be a pleasant stroll around the block or in your living space.
- You don’t have to give up exercise because of chronic pain. Staying physically active relieves chronic pain in many cases. Ask your doctor.
If any of these “commandments” suit you, go ahead and hit the gym or aim high in some other way. Some people like to “grow up”.
But if you think it makes more sense to “get small,” try these 10 simple steps to training successfully:
- Set yourself a simple goal. Why? “Studies have shown that people who consider their goals to be achievable do better than those who consider their goals to be unattainable,” says journalist Shankar Vedantam in his book Useful Delusions. The goal of exercising for 30, 20, or even 5-10 minutes every day could be an achievable goal. In fact, 5-10 minutes is a reasonable goal when you’re not exercising.
- Know your reasons for exercising. Which of the above benefits could be your main motivator? Keep it in mind. Create a motto for it. Write your reasons on post-its and stick them around the house. Part of learning the exercise is remembering to do it.
- Invest in decent walking shoes. Good shoes are the only necessity for most sports. It’s easy to take our feet for granted until a foot problem limits mobility, as I’ve learned from my own experience with the dreaded plantar fasciitis.
- Find out your barriers to training and remove them. I like to do sports in the morning, but when the weather is nice, I also like to go for short walks in the evening. Unfortunately, the hassle of putting on sportswear was an obstacle for me. So I recently decided to run in whatever I was wearing. I just put on those walking shoes (# 3) and go. Freedom!
- Make it a habit by exercising at the same time every day. Habits put “good behavior on autopilot”, as Katy Milkman puts it in her book How to Change. Make it a snap. On the other hand…
- If you can’t exercise at the usual time, exercise at an unusual time. When can you train today? Be flexible and take advantage of your opportunities. Or…
- Treat yourself to two “passes” a week. This excellent idea from Katy Milkman confirms the reality of our numerous commitments. Skipping exercise for a doctor’s appointment or meeting is inevitable, so you could incorporate two “no workout days” into your program without feeling guilty.
- Split it up. Take a 10-minute walk in the morning and another 10-minute walk in the evening.
- Create stripes. Use a wall calendar to tick huge boxes for each day that you exercise at least 10 minutes. See how many days in a row you can make it through. Motivate streaks.
- Kick it up a notch. Once you’ve established your exercise habit, add it in. I like this quote from habits expert James Clear: “Start small. Master the art of surfacing. Ascend when you have the time, energy, and interest.”
Your new identity
At some point you may be looking forward to your training breaks. The joy of movement can then itself become a motivator. But whether you enjoy your workouts or just take them like a daily pill, tell yourself about your success and adopt your new identity. You can now call yourself a “trainer”.
© Meg Blessed. All rights reserved.
* Also recommended by the CDC for all adults: Strength training – also known as weight lifting or resistance training – and balance exercises for adults over 65. Only 23% of adults do strength training regularly. But in this blog we go step by step!