Friday, January 9, 2009

Starting an exercise routine can be intimidating and overwhelming but if you are entering the New Year with a goal of getting into shape I have a few tips that may be helpful. First, set realistic goals. If are currently not exercising don’t set a goal of running a marathon by the end of the year. Start by adding a short walk into your routine a few times a week. Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health.

Second, remember to start slow. For example, you might try short daily sessions of 5 to 10 minutes and slowly build up to 15 minutes twice a week. Then, over several weeks, you can gradually work your way up to 30 minutes 3-5 times a week.

There are so many health benefits to walking. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking on a regular basis can improve your mood, help combat chronic disease, help you manage your weight, lower your cholesterol, and strengthen your heart and lungs.

Third, have fun. Try not to look at exercise as a daunting, punishment to endure. Instead, try to turn it into a new way of life – your new and improved lifestyle. Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals, which may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out. You'll also look better and feel better when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Exercise even reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
Don't have time to walk? Try taking a walk during your lunch hour or do laps around the field while your kids are at soccer practice. I've even been known to walk circles around the playground equipment at the park while my kids played. "Just 10 more times around boys and then I can push you on the swings!" There is always a way to fit it in. You just have to make it a priority in your life.

So grab some good tunes and a comfortable pair of walking shoes and feel confident that you are taking great steps to better health.

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