Let's face it, many of us get motivated to exercise because we want to regulate or lose weight. It's looked at like a chore, rather than a pleasure in many cases. However, know that there are many other benefits to regular exercise may up the motivation levels.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, regular exercise can help prevent some cancers. prevent Type 2 diabetes, reduce the risk of heart disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your mood and help you to live better and longer. But humans are mysterious creatures, just because something as simple and accessible as exercise has so many positive benefits doesn't necessarily make us more likely to do it.
In honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, here are seven ways to start getting active, and to stay that way:
- Easy does it: If you haven't exercised in a long time, don't set yourself up for failure by signing up for a marathon or vowing to get up at 5 a.m. and go to the gym every day. Make a small commitment to go for a 5 minute walk, three times a week, for example that isn't too intimidating and that you absolutely know you can accomplish.
- Don't depend on willpower to sustain long-term change: If willpower was an easily-harnessed resource, most of us would be in much better shape, both literally and figuratively. To be sure, you're going to need willpower, especially when you're first starting out. But expect that it won't keep you going for the long haul and find other ways like developing a habit to keep yourself on the path.
- Use the willpower you do have wisely: You use your willpower every time you resist an impulse to check your smartphone, eat a cookie, or yell at your teenage son and each one of these mini acts of mental resistance uses up the fuel from your willpower tank. One way around the problem is to exercise as early in the day as possible, before your willpower is depleted. Another is to find ways to minimize how often you have to resist temptation by not keeping cookies in the house, or turning your phone off, for example so that your willpower is there when you really need it.
- Find a buddy: Accountability and increased enjoyment are just two reasons to start exercising with a friend or group. Make a commitment to show up with somebody else to increase your chances of success.
- Change your mindset: Researchers who study human habits say that people who are able to make lasting changes to their lifestyle learn to see and think about themselves differently. Examine your beliefs about health and exercise and challenge the ones that aren't in line with the new story you want to tell: that you're a person who is healthy, active, and physically fit.
- Ask for help: If you don't know how to begin, talk to your doctor, a physical trainer, or just a physically active friend who can give you some ideas. Many gyms offer one free session with a personal trainer take advantage of it!
- Make it fun: "Exercise" doesn't have to mean running on the treadmill or doing an activity you detest. Playing a game of tennis, line dancing, hiking outdoors, and jumping rope all qualify as exercise. The activity you choose may not be easy; but if it's fun you may be more likely to stick to it.
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