In August, I wrote about making fitness fun. However, sometimes we get stuck. Our exercise commitment wanes and we don’t want to do it. Here are some things you can do when it is hard to maintain a fitness program:
- Show up and suit up. Some people find the act of putting on sneakers and starting the activity helps overcome mental resistance.
- Find a fitness buddy. We are less likely to cancel out on a friend than we are ourselves.
- Join a group or class.
Vary your activity. Common types of exercise focus on strength, flexibility, balance and aerobic endurance. Some activities combine all of these elements, while others concentrate on one aspect. Examples of recreational activities are walking, hiking, swimming, dancing, bicycling and weightlifting.
Just as in life, variety is an important aspect of exercise. If you walk, add activities at various intervals that increase your heart rate and use other muscles. Examples of this: Every 5 minutes of walking, try skipping for 30 seconds, or do 4 lunges, or 2 minutes of speed walking. If you use weights for toning, try a session using light weights with 20 to 30 repetitions, and another session using heavy weights and perhaps only 5 or 6 repetitions. You can also vary the speed of your workout. Lifting weights at a very slow rate can be incredibly challenging.
Physical fitness is more likely to be successful if it is portable, not dependent on the weather, and fits any budget. Staying fit does not have to be an all or nothing proposition and accommodates the busiest schedules. You can sneak in some exercise by gardening, using the stairs, choosing a parking spot on the outskirts of the lot, getting off the bus before the scheduled stop and walking the rest of the way, window shopping, sweeping the floor, and mowing the lawn. Replace power tools with manual tools. Mowing the lawn with a push mower is an excellent way to be active. Walk instead of driving. Don’t use the remote control when watching T.V. Stretch, do leg exercises or lift light weights while talking on the phone or watching television. Any opportunity to be active helps us to stay in shape.
Be sensible about exercise. Remember to drink water, apply sunscreen and avoid injuries.
Pain is NOT gain. However, sore muscles may occur. Heat, cold packs, and stretching may be beneficial. Remember to consult a doctor for injuries and discuss a back-up fitness plan for common injuries. Avoid exercise when ill.
Look for ideas of things to try. The internet, videos, magazines and books can be useful resources. Choose sources that target your age and fitness needs. Many communities and employers offer groups and classes. Information for people with disabilities is provided on the President’s Challenge web site.
We have access to a coach 24 hours a day. It is the one we carry with us Most of us respond to a supportive coach. Skip the criticism. Show up, suit up and keep a positive attitude. The effort is worth it, especially when fitness becomes fun.
For some fitness tips and challenges, check out the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition at www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/index.html