How to Get Moving Every Day
By JiJi Russell
Contributor, Sports+Fitness Network
Let’s assume you have not managed to “hit the gym” as often as you had hoped at the dawn of 2016. Let’s say you’re struggling, at least a little bit, to get more exercise, perhaps with hopes of finally changing the trend of your health status and/or lifestyle. Here is my best bit of advice: become a movement opportunist. Here’s how:
Think Small: If you have just 15 minutes to take a break during your day, use that time to walk, stretch, or otherwise move about. Don’t underestimate short bursts of movement. Get movement happening by taking the stairs, and parking farther from entrances in order to get a few more steps. Make a list of times, places, and locations where you might have just 15 minutes to move, and keep a list of movement ideas handy. Better yet: Set an alarm on your phone. When it goes off, set your timer for 15 minutes, and GO!
Be a Movement Opportunist: Related to thinking small, if you have a chore to do around the house, like raking or cleaning the kitchen, make the work “count” as your workout. Put on your athletic shoes; wear something you can move in; and put yourself into the job. Get your heart rate up; breathe deeply; do an extra squat with your mop bucket. If you’re out and about, perhaps taking your child to team practice, bring layers and good shoes so that you can walk outside during the time that you might otherwise sit. All movement is fair game toward a goal of more exercise.
Vary Your Activities: Engaging in different types of movement throughout the week (say, walking and lifting weights) helps you to build well-rounded strength, flexibility, and balance, and can keep you from becoming bored or fatigued in one area. If you like weights, lift weights. But maybe the next day, walk a mile and leave the weights at home. Too much of anything can be too much.
Recruit a Friend or a Personal Trainer: Many people find greater success with an accountable friend or trainer. If you have a friend who also likes Zumba, sign up for class with your friend so that he or she can motivate you if you’re having a “blah” day and don’t feel like going. If you want someone to challenge you where you might not challenge yourself, or if you need special accommodations for injury or other conditions, consider a personal trainer. A skilled trainer can keep you in better form as you train (thus reducing the risk of injury), while challenging you beyond your “plateau”.
Get Real with Your Diet: No amount of exercise will compensate for a poor diet. If you want your physical fitness routine to serve you well, pair your movement efforts with a diet that is rife with high-quality foods. While exceptions always exist, most people would benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables, and eliminating or consuming less processed or refined foods. Try to go “real” with your food picks (fresh produce and whole grains, small amounts of high-quality meats), and cook as much as possible at home. Go even farther by identifying your top two or three dietary pitfalls and eliminating them for at least two weeks (suggestions include alcohol, sugar, baked goods, bread, sodas, fast food, and on and on…)
Rest, Sometimes: If you are tired and sore the day after a workout, take a rest day from exercise. Don’t push too hard, especially in the beginning. Learning how to keep forward momentum without overstressing your muscles and joints requires introspection and honesty with yourself. It might mean the difference between slight discomfort and injury.