The idea of committing to an hour or more of exercise most days of the week is simply too much for most people, putting them at risk for burnout and giving up. It’s also important not to push yourself too hard in the beginning when becoming more active because this can actually derail your long-term goals by contributing to injuries and fatigue.
Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash
When it comes to making fitness changes that will better your health, rather than procrastinating and feeling stuck, start by thinking about just 1-2 simple things you can do each week to get the ball rolling in order to gain some momentum.
Perhaps you can dedicate just 10 minutes per day to learning a few bodyweight exercises (such as squats, lunges, jumping jacks, etc. which can all be done with zero equipment), or put aside 15 to 20 minutes most days for a walk around your neighborhood? Just about everyone has 10 to 20 minutes to spare! And the lower the cost investment, the more likely you may be to begin.
One of the best ways to start making changes is to get very clear on your overall goals.
Write down what you ultimately want to accomplish. Then try laying out small, specific steps that you can take to begin achieving bigger goals. Your first goal may be to buy better sneakers, join a local gym, try a new class or seek out a local hiking trail.
Clearly define your path and you’ll have a better chance of checking smaller milestones off of your to-do list. This creates a positive cycle because people respond positively to their own progress and achievements.
Let's look at some simple "exercise hacks" that can add more movement to your day without costing you tons of time:
Start by committing to short-term goals such as exercising for 15 to 20 minutes per day for 30 days/1 month. Keep things simple, such as by walking fast outside or doing yoga videos for free at home.
While some people prefer exercising on their own, others do better when they have support and accountability. Consider joining a group or participating in a “challenge” for more outside accountability.
Keep track of your progress by using a fitness device to track steps or speed, weighing yourself, measuring yourself, or taking photos. Try to think of your underlying goals when figuring out which variables to track.
If you have a commute to work, consider if it can be changed to incorporate more activity. Maybe you can actually bike or walk to work, or get off the train or bus a stop early to walk the remaining distance. If you work from home, consider this extra time to get a quick workout in before the day gets going.
Either involve your spouse, roommate, or a coworker in your fitness plans who can commit to exercising with you, even if it means holding "walking meetings" or attending a workout class directly before or after work with you.
Build active breaks into your workday. Walk around your neighborhood while taking calls, or do some simple stretches and exercises in your office/home a few times a day.
Combine the benefits of an active social life and fitness by meeting up with friends for a fitness class or a jog. Another option is hiring a personal trainer together, which can cut costs and keep things fun.
Try workout DVDs and fitness YouTube videos at home to add variety to your routine with little to no equipment needed. You might also choose to invest in some expensive equipment such as cables, bands or barbells.
When doing strength-training, ideally try to focus on compound movements that engage multiple, large muscle groups which gives you a more comprehensive workout in less time.
Get the kids or your pet involved. Plan to take daily walks together or head to a park or beach to play around.
Maximize your time and burn extra calories with interval training, which combines short bouts of high-intensity interval training exercise with recovery phases.
Once you’ve been active for several weeks consistently, consider if there's a larger goal you may want to work towards, such as running a 5K (which is a bit over 3 miles).