You already know that exercise plays a key role in maintaining your weight, boosting your energy levels and keeping your blood sugar in check—but sometimes it’s hard to get into a routine that works for you. Luckily, getting more exercise doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.
Recruit a fitness buddy (or your dog) for a brisk stroll around the neighborhood, or channel your inner kid and join a sports team. Here are a few options to get you started (hint: finding a fun exercise that you enjoy will help you stick with it!).
Get Moving. It doesn’t matter if you prefer biking to running, or would rather swim than do yoga—pick your favorite activity and get moving! Anything that raises your heart rate and makes you break a sweat will help burn calories and build stamina. Walking is another great option that’s as simple as lacing up your walking shoes and getting out the door. Meet up with a walking buddy to turn a good-for-you activity into a social event, or leave your car at home for the day and walk to work. Not an avid walker? Try jumping rope, cross-country skiing, swimming or an aerobics or dance class. Just be sure you can participate regularly, and that you’re moving continuously throughout your session. (Aim for 30 minutes five times a week.)
Join the Team. (Again.) Team sports like soccer, baseball and tennis are terrific ways to get moving and have fun at the same time. You may be extra-motivated to show up when you know your teammates are counting on you. Don’t worry if you haven’t been on a team since high school—most recreational leagues welcome participants at all levels. Check with your neighborhood recreation center, a continuing education program or the YMCA.
Tick, Tick, Tick: The Power of the Pedometer. Need a little push to get moving? Clip on a pedometer or step counter. This nifty little device tracks the number of steps you take daily, including your walk to the mailbox or down the hall to the bathroom. Once you’re in tune with your daily stride, it’s easy to add a few more paces to your daily routine. Aim for 2,000 steps per day to start—that’s about a mile of walking!
Build Muscle. Heart-pumping exercises like walking or tennis are great for burning calories, but don’t overlook the value of strength training. Try using weight machines, resistance bands, stability balls or the weight of your own body to build muscles. Push-ups and abdominal crunches are a great way to fit in an at-home workout. If you’re trying strength training for the first time, it’s worth investing in a few sessions with an athletic trainer so you can be sure you’re exercising safely and effectively.
Before any strenuous physical activity, be sure to talk to your doctor.