Physically active people have a lower risk of developing heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other chronic conditions than inactive people. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity can help you live longer, look younger, feel better, and lose weight.
There are many reasons to be physically active. The benefits of an active lifestyle include the following:
- Lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer
- Reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Improving your mood
- Reducing your stress levels
- Increasing your energy levels
The CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense activity each week. That’s just 30 minutes per day, five days per week. You can break that up into shorter bursts of action if that’s more convenient for you. For example, you could do 10 minutes of walking in the morning, 10 minutes at lunchtime, and 10 minutes in the evening.
Start small and gradually increase your activity level if you’re not currently active. And if you’re already busy, keep it up! The more active you are, the better off you’ll be. However, you might need assistance starting from a passive standpoint. Here are a few tips to help you out.
Choose an Easy Activity
The starting activity will play a vital role in your success. The key is to find something you’re comfortable with and won’t dread doing. Walking is one of the easiest things you can do to get active. You don’t need any special equipment, you can do it anywhere, and it doesn’t require a lot of coordination. Start walking for 10 minutes daily and gradually increase your time as you feel more comfortable.
Other low-impact activities include biking, swimming, and using an elliptical machine or stair climber at the gym. These activities are easy on your joints and help ease you into a more active lifestyle.
Some people also start with yoga, a meditative practice that you can perform at any level. You can start with a beginner’s class or look for one geared toward people who are just beginning. A 300-hour yoga training program might also be a good option if you want to take advanced classes eventually.
Set Realistic Goals
Part of why people don’t stick with an active lifestyle is because they set too lofty goals. For example, someone who has never worked out before probably shouldn’t plan to run a marathon in six months. It’s just not realistic, and it sets you up for disappointment.
Start by setting smaller goals you can realistically achieve, such as walking for 30 minutes a day or going to the gym three times a week. Once you reach your first goal, you can set a new one. And as you get more fit, your dreams can become more ambitious.
But don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Give yourself a pat on the back or a reward (like a new pair of sneakers) when you reach each goal—no matter how small.
Find an Exercise Partner
It’s always more fun to do something with someone else, and exercise is no different. Find a friend, family member, or co-worker who wants to get active and hold each other accountable. You can sign up for a fitness class together, go for walks or runs, or lift weights at the gym.
You might even want to start or join an exercise group. Often, groups walk, bike, or play tennis or basketball in parks. These groups are usually free and open to everyone.
However, the best partner will always be a friend with the same goal as you. There’s nothing like a little healthy competition to keep you motivated.
Get a Physical Activity Tracker
A physical activity tracker is one of the best ways to stay on track. These devices, which usually come in the form of a wristband or clip-on, track your steps, distance, and calories burned. Some also monitor your heart rate and sleep patterns.
You can sync the data from these devices with apps on your phone or computer, which allows you to track your progress over time. And many people find that they’re more likely to stick with an activity if they can see their progress.
There are many different brands and models of physical activity trackers on the market, so it’s essential to do your research before you buy one. Consider your needs and budget, and read online reviews to find the best tracker for you.
If you’re looking to start an active lifestyle, you should keep a few things in mind:
- Choose an activity that’s easy for you to do and won’t put too much strain on your body.
- Set realistic goals so you don’t get discouraged.
- Find an exercise partner to help keep you motivated.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle.