If getting out of bed and starting on your morning routine is getting harder because you’re stiff and sore, it’s probably time to start exercising.
Health experts tell us that exercising a minimum of 150 minutes a week is needed to maintain your health. One way to do this is to do something every day. There are four basic types of exercise to pick from – aerobic, strength, balance and flexibility.
The question is, how do you start? First set a short term (next 2 months) and a longer term (9 months) goal. The goal has to be realistic – running a marathon while carrying two bowling balls at the same time is not a realistic goal. To be able to walk 5 miles a week is a realistic short term goal.
First write down your goal. “I want to walk 5 miles a week” should be posted on your mirror so you can see it every morning. Next, tell 5 people what your goal is and ask for their help in reaching it. Your goal is now real and you have 5 cheerleaders. Have someone help you mark off a safe 1-mile course. This could be laps around the parking lot, trips to the mailbox, a number of walks around the block. Now you know what reaching your goal is going to look like.
Next step is to start your exercise program. On Day 1, announce your goal to everyone around you. Walk at least 5 to 10 minutes. On Day 2, walk the same amount of time. Day 3, increase the time. Keep increasing the time each day until you are walking for 30 minutes a day. Walking can get boring if you’re alone, so invite someone to join you.
By the way, there is no shame in stopping for a rest during your exercise. It’s not uncommon for those who get exercise by walking laps in a shopping mall to walk from one end to the other, then sit down for a few minutes another lap.
Just walking is also boring. Add some variety to your exercise program. Stop and lift some light weight (1 or 2 pounds each). After you walk, do a few exercises for balance and flexibility. There are books on stretching that have age appropriate stretching routines.
When you do reach your goal of walking 5 miles a week, find a way to celebrate. While the temptation is to eat a large dish of ice cream, a better celebration might be a new pair of walking shoes. If you’ve gotten hooked on walking, you’ll need them.
What does all of this mean? Set a goal for yourself. Let everyone know what your goal is so they can support you. Work on your goal every day. Invite others to join you. Whether it’s walking, lifting weights, Tai Chi or any exercise program, remember you’ve started down the path to better health.