Getting started with exercise when you really don't want to
Want to get fit but can't quite bring yourself to get moving? That's the situation with many people. We'd all like to be fit but sometimes the very thought of all that effort means we constantly put it off for another day.
And then there are those of us who start off enthusiastically with a new "three times a week at the gym" routine only to throw in the towel after a few weeks. You either injure yourself by going too fast too soon or find it takes up too large a chunk of the little free time you have or it just feels too much like hard work.
For reluctant exercisers the way to get fit without a fuss is by starting slowly and building up to a level you are comfortable with. If you challenge yourself just a little each time you do anything and never go too far beyond your comfort zone you can get a surprisingly long way fast.
This way of working up to exercise may seem a bit feeble to the fitness enthusiasts out there. But you have to remember they are already enjoying the huge benefits of working out. And it works a treat for those of us who have a horror of getting sweaty and uncomfortable and who don't yet have experience of how much better it feels to be fit.
To get going with a routine you can stick to:-
1. Start with something simple
Walking is a great way to ease gently into exercise. You can fit it into your day without getting changed into any special clothes. Put on a comfortable pair of shoes and you're ready. And it's something most people can do. You can take the dog and the kids if you need to. They'll benefit too. Or even just walk around your home if you can't get out.
2. Start with a tiny amount
If lack of time is putting you off, start with just 10 minutes exercise. Everyone can find 10 minutes somewhere in the day. You'll be amazed at how much better you'll feel with just 10 minutes every day if you don't do anything at all at the moment. Even better, find 2 or 3 ten minute periods when you can go for a walk. It's great to fit a walk in at lunchtime and after dinner and maybe you can make it part of your journey to or from work or taking your kids to school. This will meet the guidelines for a healthy lifestyle 'but in any case 10 minutes a day is great to get you started. So don't let the guidelines put you off if you can't spare more time.
3. Never go too far too fast
If you're unused to exercise check with your doctor before you begin. Once you get going, build up your strength gradually, gently challenging yourself each day to go a little further, a little faster or a little longer. Straining yourself too much leads to injuries and if it gets to be too much too fast you'll end up giving up.
4. Make it fun
Get some company for your walks or listen to an MP3 or CD player or a portable radio. Choose a safe place to walk in your neighbourhood and if you can, somewhere with great scenery too. It may be worth driving a little to find a good place to walk.
5. Remind yourself of the benefits
Remind yourself each day, as you think about taking your exercise, how much you are doing for your health and well-being 'cutting down your risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, burning calories and keeping your weight down, helping to protect against loss of muscle as you age and protecting yourself against osteoporosis too. And then there are the intangible benefits like improving your self-esteem and mood because you're doing something positive for yourself.
6. Be consistent
With a gentle exercise like walking be consistent and keep it up every day. It's too easy to let a day off extend into a week and then it's hard to get going again. If you do end up taking a break just go right back where you were. Don't try and make up for a day off by doubling your efforts the next day. Also if you do a lot on one day and feel the painful effects of some new activity, still try and do your walk the next day, even if you have to go a bit slower than normal. It helps you turn exercise into a habit.
7. Monitor yourself
A pedometer is a great tool for keeping a check on your progress. You can count the paces you take on your regular walk or even the paces you take all day. A pedometer encourages you to build up your level of activity and makes it easy to challenge yourself to build up your fitness bit by bit. If you monitor your whole day's activity, the paces soon add up if you follow those age-old weight loss tips about parking in the furthest space and using the stairs instead of the elevator. They say you should aim for 10,000 steps a day but you can build this up gradually 100 at a time.
8. Choose an alternative
If walking doesn't fill you with enthusiasm why not choose an activity you would like to do 'something which doesn't feel like exercise. How about dancing or skating, skiing or horse-riding? Anything which gets you out and about and moving will help improve your fitness 'you don't have to be restricted in the activities you choose provided your general health is OK. Think about the things you loved as a child and try taking them up again.
Copyright 2005, Janice Elizabeth Small
About the author:
Janice Elizabeth is a weight loss coach and author of "The Diet Exit Plan". Request her FREE 15 page report "How to lose weight without dieting '7 secrets the diet industry doesn't want you to know" at http://www.SimplySlimming.comTODAY!