We are bombarded with information on why we should be “moving more”. Experts, health care professionals, our children and maybe even your grandchildren tell us to go out and exercise. There is a huge upside. And the downside? There really isn’t one.
But what I can’t seem to figure out is why we aren’t all doing it. All you need is a good pair of shoes, a trail or a street or a sidewalk and a bottle of water. You don’t’ have to join a gym where the first thing you see are svelte people working out on machines that look like they came off the U.S. S. Enterprise.
Just walk. So simple.
So I went looking for the BEST advice on how to convince us to do the right thing for our bodies and get out there and move. These tips can help you get started and stay motivated when you feel more like lounging on the couch than walking around the block.
1. Tell yourself you only have to exercise for ten minutes at a time. Just ten measly minutes. Then if you do more, great. If not, you have fulfilled the commitment and armed with that little bit of success, you can go out tomorrow and do ten more!
2. If you can’t seem to find an hour to exercise at once, don't let that stop you. Do your exercise in small increments during the day and total them up to count as one completed daily session of exercise. (For example, walking ten minutes at the mall added to ten minutes grocery shopping and then ten minutes riding your exercise bike while watching TV). This tip is designed to keep you from being scared off by that intimidating goal of a full hour of exercise so that you think that doing anything less than that is worthless. It all counts.
3. Set small goals along the route while you are out walking. Spot something up the road and tell yourself that you will take a break -- or have a drink of water -- when you reach that spot. Do this several times during your walk and you will be amazed at how far you can go.
4. Trick yourself -- It does work. Put some of your favorite songs on your iPod and only listen to them when you are walking. Or rent an audio book at the library and do the same thing. Sometimes we have to trick ourselves to do the right thing. Sounds kind of silly, but if it works, that’s OK.
5. Enter your walking sessions into your day planner or computer calendar. If you prioritize the time, you will learn to respect it as much as other things you are scheduling. It may be one of the most important ones since it translates into better health.
6. Create a chart so that you can keep track of your walking sessions all in one place. Filling in blank spaces on a specially designed “walking calendar” is something Boomers love to do.
7. Another trick: Buy a pedometer and use it every day to see how many steps you are taking. Having a goal of 10,000 steps a day is a great way to begin. Many of us can’t meet that goal without scheduling in a pure walking session (see No. 5) but there’s something about trying to accumulate points that appeals to us. To see a rating of some good pedometers, visit here.
8. If you are getting bored with your local walking routes, add a little more adventure. The Webwalking USA Walking Program is a 5,000+ mile “virtual” walk across the country. For every minute or mile you walk, you can see how much progress you are making along the American Discovery Trail. The trail runs from Delaware to California, so you can hop on and begin charting your progress wherever you are. (This is something I had not heard about before researching this article, but what a great idea! Living north of Pittsburgh, I think “walking” to California is a great way to get into shape and stay motivated. See the website above for more details.)
9. Then there’s the old standby motivator: Walk with a friend. If someone is waiting for you at the lamppost to begin a walk, you are less likely to ignore your plans. Also, get your friend to sign up with you for a measured walk for charity and train to complete that walk. You’ll probably get a new T-shirt to wear and after the race is over, it will remind you of your accomplishment and have you craving more wardrobe items!
10, And finally, a friend of mine says she is inspired by a poster she sees every time she goes to the doctor. Put simply it encourages people to “keep moving”. Good advice.
By Teresa K. Flatley