By Beth Donovan aka ~Indygirl
I used to think I had to have a goal of running a 5K or working out for at least a half hour a day to get any benefits from exercise. I was dead wrong. Every little bit of moving we do adds up and studies have shown that even daily broken up exercise routines work to reduce health concerns. SparkGuy himself sets a modest goal of 10 minutes a day, which he usually surpasses. I followed his lead and although at first I wasn’t able to do a full 10 minutes, I broke it up into a few minutes a few times a day. Something happens after 10 minutes though, and I find myself reaching for that 11th minute, the 12th minute and more.
If you haven’t moved in awhile, start slowly and ask your doctor what exercises might be right for you, especially if you have chronic pain or a disability. I started my exercise routine with sessions of in-home physical therapy because I was bedridden at the time. Wherever you are at with your fitness level, accept it and find the best workout for YOU, not for your friend or favorite celebrity. Just moving at all for some people is a workout, while others might need more vigorous training. You need to find your personal fitness level and build on it. When looking for a workout routine, remember it needs to be something you will enjoy. Try different things until you find what suits your tastes. Here's what works for me:
- Set modest goals. Don’t burn yourself out before you even get started. If you haven’t worked out in a year, starting with an hourlong walk a day might not be practical and might burn you out or leave you injured. You might start with a 10-minute walk for a week, then go to 15 minutes the next week depending on your fitness level. My goals usually change each month. I’m very slow to progress, but I do progress. If I progress too quickly, I suffer from too much pain and start to dread working out. When that happens, I slowly find reasons not to exercise. The trick is to not let that happen in the first place. To avoid the problem, I make my goals as easy to reach as possible. I want to succeed, so I make them attainable. Making them impossible or too challenging would serve no purpose for me.
- Music can be extremely motivating. My playlist is something I try not to listen to unless I’m working out. Why? It’s my reward for working out. I get to hear music I like when I exercise and I make sure the music is downright addictive to me so that I want to hear the next song. That way I will keep working out so I can listen to the music.
I get motivated to go to the gym by people I meet there. I’m very social most of the time. If you are like me, a gym might be a great place to make friends by taking a class or showing up at the same time each day/night. If you like exercising at home or alone, having an accountability buddy might work. My friend Tina and I call each other and brag on our exercise or good choices throughout the day. It keeps me motivated and wanting to make more good choices.
- Workout clothing makes me feel motivated, too. I never thought I would say that, as I always considered myself inactive. When I dress in workout clothes, they make me feel like moving. The problem with being large is that finding cute workout clothes isn’t easy. Lately I’ve had a lot of fun shopping at Goodwill for my workout clothes, something I was never able to do before. (For more tips on workout clothes, equipment and more, check out: Solutions to the Challenges of Living Large or Less Mobile)
- If you just aren’t the indoor exercise type, take it outside. Enjoy the scenery, no matter what season; there is something to do, even if it is just to march in place or shovel snow. Walk to the mailbox to get your mail if that’s all you can do or make a few trips up and down the driveway. Look into dog-walking programs at the local pound if you enjoy animals. Some nursing homes have buddy programs, too, or you might be able to befriend a senior and exercise at a slower pace together.
- Make a dream list of activities you would like to do in your “fit life.” Using that dream list to motivate yourself to train for those activities might be another way to get excited about exercise. Personally, I would like to walk through a water park again and swim in the wave pool. I would also like to walk through Disney World and Epcot Center again and along the beach in Florida with my husband. To do this, I am strengthening my legs as much as I can via use of my walker and cane. I also do cardio on my arm bike, pushing the resistance as far as I can to get resistance training at the same time.
These are the ways that I stay on track when exercise seems tedious or too difficult. I hope these tips help you as well. Remember that before you start or change an exercise plan, you should discuss it with your doctor.
What are your dreams? What could you strengthen to reach them?