Deciding to get active is one of the most important preventive health steps you can take. Regular exercise helps you to feel better, giving you more energy and confidence as well as a reduced chance of illness and disease.
However, if you’re new to exercising or you’ve been out of a routine for a while, it can be difficult to get and stay active. Sticking to an exercise routine requires discipline and consistency. This guide to getting active will help you learn some of the common barriers to physical activity and provide some tips on how to start exercising and stick with your workout goals.
7 Tips for Getting Active
Beginning a new fitness regime can be overwhelming. Many people don’t know where to begin and end up giving up before they’ve had a chance to make progress. Understanding some of the common obstacles to getting and staying active can help you feel better prepared to start a new exercise routine.
Some of the common challenges people experience when getting active are:
- Lack of motivation in sticking to a routine
- Developing injuries from overdoing it
- Losing interest in exercise or no longer enjoying it
- Not being clear on personal goals and reasons for getting active
The below tips for getting active will help address some of these exercise challenges people face when starting out. Experts recommend the following solutions to help people develop sustainable habits and realize lasting improvements.
1. Small Steps to Get Active
When striving to reach exercise goals, it’s not usually getting started that’s the hard part一it’s sticking with it long-term. Like any other habit, physical activity takes time to become part of your weekly routine. Many people begin with plenty of motivation, only to lose momentum after a few days.
Rather than setting lofty goals, find smaller, more realistic ways to add more exercise to your daily routine, such as:
- Taking a walk after dinner instead of watching TV
- Using the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible
- Doing more yard work or home repairs
Gradually increasing your amount of exercise over time may help you to stick to a habit long-term. Experts in the science of habit formation say that setting micro-goals helps us to sustain motivation over time.
2. Plan How to Get Active
If you’re getting active for the first time or returning to exercise after a long break, it’s important to have a plan or a schedule to follow. Workout plans are a valuable tool to help you make incremental progress over time. Exercise plans also provide a way to stay accountable to your goals by giving you a clear schedule to stick to.
There are many ways to create an exercise plan. The simplest way is to divide your week by workout days and rest days. Plan ahead of time the types of exercise you’ll do on workout days, blocking out time in your schedule to complete the workout. There are many online resources to help you develop a workout plan. Alternatively, a personal trainer can make you a custom workout plan that’s suitable for your current fitness level. Trainers can also motivate you to pursue more physical activity and make progress over time.
3. Try Resistance Exercise
When getting active, it’s important to know the most effective types of exercise for encouraging long-term physical health. Strength training is one of the most important types of exercise for adults. The CDC recommends that all adults incorporate at least two 30-minute sessions of strength training into their weekly exercise routine.
Strength training involves using repetitive movements against resistance to help build muscle strength. Resistance can come from dumbbells, fitness bands or your body weight. The important thing to remember with resistance training is to target each major muscle group weekly:
- Lower body一Quadriceps, hamstrings and calves
- Core一Glutes and abdominals
- Upper body一Back, chest, shoulders and arms
To begin a strength training routine, you don’t need a gym membership or special equipment. You can simply begin with bodyweight workouts until you gain more experience and develop proper form. Once you feel comfortable, you can add weight to help further build your muscle strength.
4. Incorporate Cardio
Cardio is the second type of exercise that’s necessary for adults. With cardio exercise, the goal is to get your heart rate up over a sustained amount of time. Cardio exercise is measured by intensity level, which is based on the maximum heart rate for your age group.
According to CDC guidelines, adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio exercise weekly. Examples of cardio exercise include:
- Walking briskly
- Riding a bike
- Jogging or running
- Playing tennis
- Swimming laps
Intensity is based on how high your heart rate is and for how long. A fitness tracker can help you determine how intensely you are exercising so that you can be sure you’re getting the proper amount and intensity of exercise each week. Most people overestimate the amount of exercise they get, so a fitness tracker can help provide a more realistic measurement.
5. Get Active Outdoors
Research shows that one of the main reasons people struggle with sticking to a workout plan is because they don’t enjoy exercising. Finding ways to make physical activity more enjoyable may help people adhere to their exercise routines and feel more motivated. One proven way to increase exercise enjoyment is to take your workout outdoors.
Studies have found that the benefits of outdoor exercise vs. indoor exercise include:
- Lower instances of depression, anxiety and other negative emotions
- Improved self-esteem, motivation and mood
- Increased exercise adherence and overall activity levels
- Better exercise enjoyment through improved social well-being
From hiking to cycling to jogging, there are plenty of ways to exercise outdoors. Many communities have outdoor fitness parks for the public to use for strength training. Because of the known benefits of outdoor exercise, it’s now common for many fitness instructors to hold their classes outside as well.
6. Learn How to Recover
Part of getting and staying active is knowing when to take a break. Recovery is a critical component of any workout routine. During rest periods, your body repairs itself, building new muscle and increasing your overall strength.
Experts recommend taking at least one day per week for recovery. On rest days, you can opt for lighter forms of exercise, such as a slow-paced walk or some gentle stretching. Active recovery is a way to help encourage further health benefits while helping to reduce soreness and stiffness after a week of tough workouts. Recovery is also critical to preventing injury, which can impede progress and reduce exercise motivation.
7. Learn How to Set Personal Goals
Whenever beginning any new habit, it’s essential to get clear on why you’re doing it. Because exercise is something many people find difficult to stick with, it’s important to set highly personal goals that motivate you to keep exercising even when you don’t feel like it.
Perhaps you want more energy to be able to play with your kids or grandkids. Or maybe you have a family history of heart disease, and you want to take preventive measures against it. Whatever your reason for getting active, make sure you get clear on your personal goals and motivations before you start. Continue to remind yourself of your reasons for wanting to be more active, as this can help you stick with your goals over time.
Benefits of Getting Regular Physical Activity
One way of improving exercise motivation is to understand the benefits of physical activity and how it can improve your life. Getting enough regular physical activity is critical for increasing longevity and preventing disease. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight and improve cardiovascular function, but it also has other benefits that extend to overall quality of life.
Below are some of the top benefits of getting enough exercise:
- Boosted immune system: Regular exercise is linked with fewer instances of infections, like cold and flu, and can help promote faster recovery from illness. Exercise also boosts your body’s ability to fight inflammation and other stressors that lead to chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.
- Improved sleep: Research shows that exercise leads to improved sleep. Physical activity may help you to fall asleep faster and get better quality rest. In particular, exercise appears to improve the amount of deep sleep people get, which is the most restorative stage of the sleep cycle.
- Increased mental well-being: Exercise is also important for your mental and emotional well-being. People who tend to experience anxiety or depression can benefit from an exercise routine. Physical activity releases mood-boosting endorphins and can also help improve self-esteem.
- More productivity and energy: Physical activity is known to help counter chronic fatigue. People who exercise regularly often report feeling more energized and productive throughout the day. Physical activity also helps improve mental sharpness, potentially staving off age-related cognitive decline.
Knowing which of the above benefits of exercise is most important to you can help you stick to your workout plan. Exercise and well-being have a bi-directional relationship一the more you exercise, the better you’ll feel. And the better you feel, the more you’ll be motivated to keep exercising.
Get Active Today With Help From Relax The Back
Getting active is one of the best decisions you can make for your physical and mental well-being. While committing and sticking to an exercise routine is a challenge, you can improve your exercise enjoyment and motivation with the right fitness solutions for a stronger workout and recovery.
Support your exercise goals with fitness and therapy products from Relax The Back. Try our active recovery solutions to help you prevent injury and soreness and stay on track with your workout plans. From inversion tables and stretchers to handheld massagers, Relax The Back has the therapeutic supplies you need to recover from strenuous activity so you can continue to improve your exercise performance.
Shop Relax The Back online today and discover the right fitness and physical therapy products for you.