If you've not been physically active, you may be wondering how to get started. For many people, walking offers a great way to become more active. And Deaconess is getting ready to begin our annual Healthier U Walk series—see the schedule and more at www.deaconess.com/walk.
Tips to help get you started:
- Look for opportunities to reduce sedentary time and to increase active time. For example, instead of watching TV, try taking a walk after dinner.
- Set aside specific times for physical activity in your schedule to make it part of your daily or weekly routine.
- Start with activities, locations, and times you enjoy. For example, some people might like walking in their neighborhood in the mornings; others might prefer an exercise class at a health club after work.
- Try activities with friends or family members to help with motivation and mutual encouragement.
- Start slowly and work your way up to more physically challenging activities. For many people, walking is a particularly good place to begin.
- When necessary, break up your daily activity goal into smaller amounts of time. For example, you could break the 30-minute a day recommendation into three 10-minute sessions or two 15-minute sessions. Just make sure the shorter sessions are at least 10 minutes long.
Should I take any precautions before becoming more active?
People with chronic diseases, such as a heart condition, arthritis, diabetes, or high blood pressure, should talk to their doctor about what types and amounts of physical activity are appropriate
Have a smart phone? Try these apps to help you track your progress
- Moves is well-regarded for its minimal design. Easily-understood, customizable with a variety of activity types.
- Map My Walk tracks your location through GPS, and has out-loud prompts that can help you stay on track. RunKeeper works similarly, and can give you accountability and reminder prompts.
- Runtastic has a similar interface and function to Map My Walk, but without location tracking. It has a more basic look.
- Pedometer++ or Accupedo Pedometer. Very simple—keeps a count of your daily steps versus a target you set. Both allow you to have a badge/pin on your phone’s home screen without having to open the app.
- Couch to 5K (from active.com) helps you set the goal of completing a 5K race in just 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 9 weeks. Whether you ever want to compete in a race, this app can help you get up and going on a great, healthy new habit.
Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles to Physical Activity
If you're just getting started, you might face certain obstacles that seem difficult to overcome.
Learn more about common obstacles and strategies for overcoming them below.
- I just don't have time to be physically active.
- I don't have anyone to go with me.
- I'm so tired when I get home from work.
- I have so much on my "to do" list already, how can I do physical activity too?
- I'll probably hurt myself if I try to be more physically active.
- I'm not coordinated enough to be physically active. I can't learn new things at my age!
- My job requires me to be on the road, it's impossible for me to exercise.
- I have small children and it's impossible to have time to myself for exercise.
- Identify available time slots. Monitor your daily activities for one week. Identify at least three 30-minute time slots you could use for physical activity.
- Develop new friendships with physically active people. Join a group, such as the YMCA or a hiking club—or the Deaconess Healthier U Walks!
- Schedule physical activity for times in the day or week when you feel energetic.
- Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule by writing it on your calendar. Keep the appointment with yourself.
- Consult with a health professional or educational material to learn how to exercise appropriately considering your age, fitness level, skill level, and health status.
- Select activities requiring no new skills, such as walking, climbing stairs, or jogging.
- Stay in places with swimming pools or exercise facilities. Or find a DVD exercise tape that you enjoy and request a DVD player with your room.
- Trade babysitting time with a friend, neighbor, or family member who also has small children. As children get older, family bike rides or walks might be another option.
Information from the CDC – Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
For more information about walking, including local trails and walking locations, visit www.deaconess.com/walk.