We frequently hear that exercise is one of the best things we can do for our body. One obstacle is setting aside the time for exercise. What is the best time for you to exercise? Any time. For example, when you are watching TV you can:
- Stretch your muscles
- Do sit ups, pushups, and other floor exercises
- Use a stationary bike or other exercise machine if you have one
A healthy exercise program includes three kinds of exercise: aerobic activity, muscular strengthening and flexibility. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, adults should be getting 150 total minutes of moderate exercise or 90 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. The average American struggles to make time for regular exercise. Lack of exercise can be a contributing factor to an increase of deadly diseases such as Type II diabetes, coronary heart disease and obesity.
Exercise isn't only for maintaining your weight and staying healthy. It's great for relieving the stresses of life. Exercise helps you cope with stress by increasing "feel good chemicals" in your brain, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Plus, the effects of a good workout can last for several hours after you hit the showers. You'll have more energy throughout the day and your metabolism will stay elevated.
Ten steps to getting started
Don't make excuses; make time for exercise. The steps below can help you start a regular exercise program:
- Consult with a physician. Always speak with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.
- Get ready. A comfortable pair of shoes will provide cushioning and support for your body. Comfortable exercise clothes are also important to allow full range of motion.
- Set goals. Small, measurable, attainable goals will keep you engaged in your exercise program.
- Plan your schedule. Find the days and times that work best for you, when you can allow yourself to have "me" time.
- Get a partner. Having a workout partner helps you stay accountable and provides motivation.
- Start slowly. Be patient with yourself. Focus on your goals without overdoing it. Too much at once can cause you to burn out from your exercise routine quickly.
- Warm up and stretch. Before and after your exercise routine, a slow warm-up and cool-down coupled with gentle stretching can help prepare your body for exercise and reduce risk of injury. Save deep, prolonged stretching for the end of your workout when muscles are warm.
- Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink water before, during and after exercise.
- Make it fun. Exercise does not have to be boring. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it is a walk to the park, dancing or swimming. Try a group exercise class with a friend!
- Reward yourself. When you reach your goals, reward yourself with healthy choices, whether it is a massage, a new pair of sneakers or a new iPod. You deserve it!
Need help getting started?
Military OneSource offers several options for helping you set and meet your fitness goals. Sign up for the online self-directed course "LivingFit: A 90-day Walking Challenge." This course is divided into three phases that take place over a twelve-week period. Each phase consists of four weekly modules and each has a specific purpose. In each phase you will receive:
- A weekly activity objective
- Helpful tips
- An opportunity to journal
- A place to log your activity and the minutes walked
Individuals who are eligible for the Military OneSource program also have access to free telephonic and online sessions with a health and wellness coach. A Military OneSource health and wellness coach can help you identify your beliefs, values and vision of fitness. Then you and your coach will develop a realistic action plan that will help you to achieve your exercise goals. Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9467 to make an appointment with a health and wellness coach.