Do you dislike the idea of exercising - even though you know it’s good for you? You’re not alone. Research shows that genetics can even have an effect on how much we enjoy exercising.
But that same research also showed that the more you exercise, the more you start to enjoy it. There’s no need to wait until the next New Year to begin a fitness routine that works for you. Get started with the information and advice below anytime, and reap the benefits of better overall health.
The Health Benefits of Regular Exercise
There are several reasons why staying physically active is good for you, making it easy to see why it should be a part of your routine. Here are just a few ways exercise is good for your health, according to MedlinePlus.
- It helps control your weight.
- It can reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers.
- It can make you less likely to suffer a fall through improved balance and strength.
- It can help you sleep better.
- It improves your mental health and mood and helps keep your brain sharp.
- It strengthens your bones and muscles for easier movement.
The CDC recommends that healthy adults get 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity exercise per week. It also recommends that adults of all ages sit less and move more throughout the day to achieve better health.
Finally, the guidelines suggest doing muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week, and mixing in balance and stability routines.
Does that sound like an impossible goal? If you break it down into smaller chunks - and consider the fact that physical activity isn’t just going to the gym - you’ll see how easy it can be to fit activity into your routine.
Just remember that it’s best to visit a doctor before starting a new fitness routine. He or she can verify that you’re healthy enough to do so and offer tips for getting started. Depending on your existing health, the doctor may suggest different levels of exercise.
Align Exercise with Your Goals to Motivate Yourself
Many people dislike exercise because it’s potentially uncomfortable. After all, who wants to get sweaty, have sore muscles, and be tired? And who has time for a trip to the gym?
Clear any preconceived notions about exercise from your head. When done properly, exercise shouldn’t hurt, there’s no need to push yourself to exhaustion, and it doesn’t have to mean going to the gym.
Make exercise fun.
Physical activity is just what it sounds like - moving your body in a way that requires more effort and energy than resting. Once you realize that, it’s easy to think of ways you can start to incorporate exercise that fits your lifestyle and abilities. Sports like tennis and golf fit the bill, but taking a walk and doing housework do, too.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
The fastest way to get discouraged is by comparing your abilities to someone else’s. Everyone is different - different ages, different genetics, different backgrounds. So if you’re trying your best, there’s no need to worry about someone else. Be kind to yourself. If you’re showing up to exercise, you’ve already faced half the battle.
Find an exercise partner.
It’s easier to stay motivated when you have a buddy who can come along. Find a neighbor, friend, or family member who can help keep you accountable and participate in the same activities you enjoy. You’ll find that exercising can be a social event, too.
Pick a goal.
Find the biggest reason you want to start exercising. Is it to lose weight? To be able to play with your grandchildren? To feel more confident walking around the block? Whatever your reason, think about it every time you’re ready to work out - and when you’re tempted to quit - to give yourself an extra boost of motivation.
Exercises and Resources for Seniors
If you’re looking for some examples of exercises to try, see the list below. This list includes both cardiovascular exercises as well as muscle-strengthening ones. Some exercises are both.
- Walking or hiking.
- Strengthening exercises with dumbbells or resistance bands.
- Bodyweight exercises like pushups, planks, squats, and lunges.
- Swimming and water aerobics.
- Riding a bike (stationary or outdoors).
- Gardening activities.
- Carrying groceries inside.
If your doctor has cleared you for exercise but you haven’t been exercising regularly, give yourself time. You won’t be able to run a marathon overnight. And to reduce your risk of injury, know your limits. Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast; give your body time to adjust.
Take it slow and recognize that it may take a while for you to accomplish some of your fitness goals. At the same time, appreciate your body for what it’s doing for you right now - you’re making great progress just by getting started!
Finally, while a personal trainer certainly isn’t required to exercise, a trainer can help you get on track and build an exercise regimen that’s right for you. Ask friends and family if they have recommendations, and check with local gyms to see if they offer personal training.
For more examples of how you can fit physical activity into your routine, see the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines.
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