Do What Moves You — But Move!

I am still a  little giddy about the beautiful weather we are having. I love having my house open all day, hearing the sounds of birds and windchimes, and smelling the sweet fragrance of Spring. 

Spring is the time of year when people who haven’t been physically active all year renew their enthusiasm for being outdoors by doing cleanup and planting projects, hiking more, getting their bikes tuned up for some exploring, or enjoying easy relaxed conversations as they stroll through the neighborhood.

Spring, clearly, is the time for movement – movement of the exercise variety.

I am particularly glad and grateful for exercise this Spring, because I’ve been pretty much sidelined with a shoulder injury for nearly a year.  It’s better now, still improving, and is now to the point where I can get on my bike, go back to yoga, and see the day in the not too distant future when I can go back to regular swimming. Color me grateful and excited!

I know that not everyone enjoys exercising as I do. Many people see exercise as a chore. It takes up valuable time in busy lives. It can be inconvenient. For some people, it’s just that they have yet to find an enjoyable exercise.

If you aren’t sure where to start, let’s look at some options and see what we can discover. Chances are that once you discover the formula of time, convenience, and enjoyment, and realize the benefits of exercise, you might become a big fan of it.

Exercise actually gives us energy. It has also been shown to be great for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as keeping us looking and feeling younger. After we’ve been sitting around for hours, it feels good to get up and move around. The same thing happens if we ramp up the effort of physical movement above and beyond the daily routines. We feel energized and invigorated because of it.

Getting some good movement does not have to mean spending hours in the gym. Benefits are to be had much closer to home. If you’ve taken a break from exercise, begin again with something simple like a 20-minute walk.  Look at ways you can add more activity to your day – a short walk during your lunch break, another walk after work, perhaps.  If finding 20-30 minutes at a time is challenging, see how you can break it up into smaller chunks of time – 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there.  It adds up quickly.

The key is to start with something and commit to it.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

What gets measured gets done. Having an activity tracker like a Fitbit around your wrist, a pedometer hooked to your waist, or, as I have, a phone app like Runkeeper, is a great way to see how active you are. There are lots of options available, and more coming out every day.  Activity trackers can give you an idea of how many calories you burn during the day, and it can be motivating to see your progress.

It helps to have goals with exercise, and it’s important to keep them within reach. For example, if you haven’t done much walking lately, a goal of 10,000 steps in a day might be unrealistic in the beginning. Start with 500 or 1000, or some number that seems reasonable, and go for it. It’s a start, and even if it is still an unrealizable goal in the beginning, set a less ambitious one, and build from there.

Stay close to home, if you like.  There are endless options for workouts from which to choose for every fitness level. Options include exercise DVDs, online workouts, fitness apps, and more.

Joining a gym is a good option, as well. Investing in a personal trainer for a time can get you off to a good, safe start, and you’ ee see results quicker and be assured that you’re using proper form to prevent injuries.

Options abound. Find something that sounds like fun, so you’ll look forward to it rather than considering it a chore. If you get bored, you can try something else for a while. Just move!

Some considerations: Maybe you’d like to pick from one of these exercises for a starter:

Walking, Running, Dancing, Biking, Skating, Rowing, Swimming, Strength training, Group exercise classes at the gym, At-home workout DVDs, Online workouts, Yoga, Pilates, Kickboxing, Martial Arts, Boxing, Cross Fit.

A tip. Get your workout clothes ready the night before and have them all laid out, so you’re ready to go. Put them where they’ll be one of the first things you see when you wake up and can remind you during the day of your commitment. If you work out in the morning, put your workout clothes on first thing, before you get distracted by anything else.

Start now. Put the days and times on your calendar, just as you would for any other important appointment. Then watch the benefits of your efforts come rolling in.

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