You know exercise can help improve your health and lose weight. Yet, 1 in 4 adults doesn’t exercise, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
Hectic schedules may be to blame. It can be tough to exercise when juggling work, school, family, and more. It’s worth squeezing it in, though, because regular exercise can relieve daily stress and lift your mood. At the same time, you can reduce your risks of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Aim to be active for at least 30 minutes most days or a total of two and a half hours per week, but it’s OK to start slowly. Find activities that you enjoy. Check with your doctor before increasing your activity level, then get started.
Tips for fitting in fitness
- Wake up a little earlier. Start by setting your alarm clock just 5 minutes earlier. Do stretches and jumping jacks before getting in the shower, or follow a short exercise DVD.
- Find a workout buddy. Exercising with a friend is more fun and a good motivator. Ask a coworker to go for a walk during lunch or see if a neighbor wants to shoot hoops. It will be harder to skip a workout if you know someone is counting on you.
- Change into exercise clothes before leaving work. You’ll be ready for a brisk walk as soon as you get home or more motivated to stop at the gym if you are already dressed for it.
- Schedule your fitness activities. If you put exercise on your calendar like other appointments, you’re more likely to do it.
- Acknowledge your successes. Keep a log of all the times you make a healthy choice to move more, such as by taking the stairs instead of an elevator. After the first week, reward yourself with a new pair of sneakers or a cool new water bottle.
- Create a home (or desk) gym. If you have equipment always at the ready, it will be easy to steal 10 minutes to use it. A jump rope, a stability ball, exercise bands, and dumbbells don’t cost much or take up much room.
- Move while you watch TV. Don’t sit idly – or worse, eat mindlessly – during commercials. Do sit-ups or jog in place instead.
- Play games with your kids. Don’t just watch while your kids play outside – join in their fun. Play tag or just toss a ball back and forth. If your kids love video games, think about swapping their favorite game for an active one in which the user must move his or her body to play. The whole family will break a sweat by dancing or using special controllers to compete at boxing, tennis, golf, and bowling. Learn more ways to increase your family’s physical fitness
- Exercise while you work. Raise your activity level and productivity with neck rolls or arm raises. Push hands out to the side and then up toward the ceiling. Take a brisk walk during your break. Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
Stepping it up
After you’ve built short periods of activity into your day, think about times when you could lengthen each burst by a few minutes. The key is to start small and ramp up gradually.
Even if you’re worn out from a busy day, try to make time for fitness. Regular exercise actually boosts your energy level. Exercise, along with sensible nutrition, is also important for losing and maintaining weight.
Next time you look for an excuse to skip exercise, remind yourself of the benefits. You’re helping yourself feel good, look better, and live longer. Who wouldn’t want that?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much physical activity do adults need?
- Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. Overweight and obesity: what you can do. Being physically active can help you attain or maintain a healthy weight.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The benefits of physical activity.