You don't need to walk for miles or spend hours at the gym to get a good workout. It can be as easy as making a few changes in your daily lifestyle, or it may involve starting a more organized fitness program. It's up to you.
"The key is to find an exercise program that suits your goals, interests and fitness level, and your weight loss efforts will begin to pay off," says Dominique Adair, M.S., R.D., president of Adair Fitness and Nutrition in Los Angeles.
Put exercise at the top of your "for me" list. The result may be a healthier, happier and sharper you. Check out these exercise options and choose the one that works best for you. Before starting any new exercise program, please consult your doctor.
Work It In
Increasing your daily activity through small lifestyle changes can be a powerful and effective way to get fit. Burning just 100 extra calories per day—the equivalent of taking a few extra steps each day—adds up to 10 pounds of weight loss in one year.
The key is to try to do something every day. Use these eight simple techniques to introduce extra calorie-burning opportunities into your day:
1. Park farther away and walk.
2. Return shopping carts to their proper places.
3. Avoid elevators and take the stairs.
4. Take a walking break instead of a coffee break.
5. Get up from your chair frequently to move around.
6. Listen to upbeat music while you clean your house, and you'll move faster.
7. Pace while you talk on the phone.
8. Walk around the office as you brainstorm your next project.
Walk It Off
Walking is one of the easiest and most effective methods to lose weight and maintain health. A pair of walking shoes is all you need. To walk properly, maintain a full stride and swing your arms. Also wear comfortable clothing and drink plenty of water.
If you feel you're not in good enough shape to walk, try this simple routine:
Check your watch. Walk away from your home for 10 minutes, turn around, and head back. You will have walked 20 minutes without much planning or effort, and will have burned about 80 calories.
Walking 15-20 minutes per day burns 400-800 calories per week. Or strive to take 10,000 steps per day, measuring your steps with a pedometer, which will count strides for you. Simply clip the pedometer to your hip each morning, set it to zero and start your day. Use the pedometer for at least one week to get a true picture of your daily activity. If you average fewer than 10,000 steps per day, step it up a bit.
Take It to the Next Level
Once you establish a fitness routine and follow it for a few months, you may find it becomes, well, too routine. Keep exercise from becoming boring by finding another activity you like and train for it. You don't need to run a marathon, but 5-kilometer races, walks, bike rides and golf tournaments take place year-round. If you take tennis lessons, sign up on a singles ladder with your local tennis association. If you enjoy soccer or softball, ask if your employer, church or community center sponsors a team. Martial arts, such as tae kwon do, are fitness-friendly and offer competitive options.
Reach Your Goal
Whether you add small amounts of activity into your day or begin a formal exercise routine, your body may become stronger and leaner. Deciding when, where and how to exercise comes down to your preferences. Whether you wish to slim down, tone up, control blood sugar or boost your health, exercise is right when it works for you.
Before any strenuous physical activity, be sure to talk to your doctor.