Attempting to maintain a physically active lifestyle does not just have to be about going to the gym. Responsibilities begin to pile up, priorities are rearranged and personal physical fitness seems to get pushed to the back of the to-do list. Well, not anymore! We have conjured up a list of nine tips to help you incorporate physical fitness into your busy daily routine safely.
Read more below to start your fitness journey and become one step closer to a healthier lifestyle.
PHYSICAL FITNESS: WHY IT IS IMPORTANT FOR ALL AGES
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, less than five percent of adults participate in 30-minutes of physical activity each day. Only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
The Department of Health & Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Developing and performing a consistent exercise routine is an essential component of living a healthy lifestyle.
Whether an activity is a low, moderate, or vigorous-intensity varies according to your fitness level. As a general guideline:
- Low-intensity activity: You can easily talk in full sentences or sing.
- Moderate intensity: You can speak in full sentences, but not sing.
- Vigorous-intensity: You are too breathless to speak in full sentences.
What are some benefits? Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve balance and coordination, initiate weight loss, improve sleep habits, build self-esteem and so much more.
Without proper exercise, you put yourself at risk for weight gain, heart attacks, diabetes, osteoporosis, and more. It will make daily activities more strenuous as you continue your day-today routine. For example, your body will adjust to being out of shape as you lose your breath while participating in once simple tasks.
Bottom line - we all need physical activity to have a healthy lifestyle. The questions are now how do I fit it in my busy schedule? How do I do this safely to avoid injury?
NINE TIPS TO SAFELY BEGIN A FITNESS ROUTINE SAFELY
Consider your fitness goals. What are your motivations to start a fitness program? Where do you want to see yourself in six months, one year, or five years? Do you aspire to lose weight or gain muscle? Maybe you want to get healthier and don’t quite know how to start. Set clear and realistic goals to help you monitor your progress, stay motivated, and work towards your end-goal.
Get in the right mindset. Now that you have your goals in place, it’s time to set yourself up for success by developing a healthy mindset. Starting small then gradually working towards something more significant is better than nothing. Getting an “A for Effort” carries a meaning with exercise. Initially, when you change from a sedentary lifestyle to an active lifestyle, an increase of physical activity to your weekly routine will have substantial effects on your mental, emotional and physical health.
Remember to be kind to yourself. Research shows that self-compassion increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any given endeavor. Do not get upset when setbacks occur or if you don’t meet a particular goal as fast as you’d hoped. Progress in the fitness world is not linear, and you should leave room for error. Take a deep breath, look past mistakes and unhealthy choices, and keep your goals in perspective. Your mentality is equally as important as physical readiness before beginning a new fitness routine.
If you have health issues, seek a medical professional first. If you have health concerns such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure, talk with your doctor before you start to exercise. Don’t hesitate to address any questions, comments, or concerns to your healthcare provider. They should be able to recommend the best tips and practices for you to begin your fitness journey based on your personalized needs.
Safety first - warm-up, cool down, hydrate, avoid sports injuries, dress appropriately. Make sure to warm up with dynamic stretches, active movements that activate the muscles you will be using. After your workout, cool down and give your heart rate the time it needs to return to its resting rate.
Your body performs best when it’s adequately hydrated. It can become dangerous for your health if you do not stay hydrated properly while exerting energy, especially if you are in hot conditions.
Avoid injuries by stopping the workout if you feel any pain or discomfort. Rest briefly, then if you can gradually resume your exercise. Do not push through the pain, unless you’d like to schedule an additional doctor’s visit for an unplanned injury.
Avoid overuse syndrome. During the warmer months, the orthopedic offices tend to see a rise in certain types of injuries; this includes a variety of both acute and overuse injuries. Many attribute to the sudden increase in activities in individuals who are previously less active. It is well-documented in the medical literature that when sedentary or less active individuals make a sudden significant increase in their level of activity, exercise or sports participation, they are at a much higher risk of injury.
Additionally, if you are trying out a team sport, be aware of concussion warning signs. Contact sports, such as football, hockey and soccer are at risk for suffering from concussions.
Dress appropriately for the temperature outdoors, or opt for an indoor activity if it’s very hot or cold. Wear appropriate shoes for your activity.
“Fit” it into your daily routine. Finding time to exercise can be a challenge. To make it easier, schedule time to exercise. For example, plan to watch your favorite show while walking on the treadmill, read while riding a stationary bike, or take a break to go on a walk at work.
Some additional tips for you:
- You could also exercise for shorter times, i.e., three 10-minute walks or High-Intensity Interval Training for 10-30 minutes five days a week.
- Find fitness videos to do at-home or on-the-go workouts.
- Do chores at a faster pace than usual to increase your heart rate, i.e., cleaning the house, washing the car.
- When running errands, park towards the back of the parking lot to get an extra walk in. You could walk inside the store for a lap or two before shopping.
- For work, walk or bike to work if you live close enough. Take the stairs instead of an elevator. Take short walking breaks during your hours at the office, don’t forget to ask a friend to join you.
- Get outside and mow the lawn with a push mower, plant a vegetable or flower garden, play with the kids.
- Take part in an exercise program at work or a nearby gym that fits your schedule. Find a gym in the area that offers a fun class at a time that works best for you.
Stick with it. Commit to your plan, schedule your time for exercise, and don’t change plans. You can do this more efficiently by removing obstacles and holding yourself accountable for meeting your goals to incorporate physical fitness into your routine safely.
To remove obstacles, plan for any perceived notion of a factor to get in the way of exercising. Plan your workouts for the time of day when you have the most energy, if applicable. If you are on a time crunch in the morning, set your workout clothes out the night before putting them in your car, so you’re ready to go the next day. Keeping a gym bag in the car will minimize the temptation to go home after you’re done at the office; that way, you can hit the gym straight from work.
Hold yourself accountable and find a workout partner who also values fitness and health. There’s another option of asking a friend or family member to have regular check-ins to see your progress.
Involve others. Sometimes it’s more fun to share your hobbies or interests with others, so make it happen. Join a group (dance club, hiking group, golf league, etc.), invite your family for a group walk, walk the dog, ask a friend to go hiking, or plan a trip to the zoo. Get creative and think of ways to maximize your support and encouragement around meeting and staying with your goals.
Celebrate your successes. Big or small, progress is progress, so treat yourself to seeing success and for your hard work. Choose activities that make you feel happy and confident.
Try not to only focus on the long-term rewards. When you’re starting an exercise program, give yourself immediate rewards when you complete a workout or reach a new fitness goal. Choose something you look forward to - it can be as simple as taking a hot bath or savoring your favorite cup of coffee.
Practice mindfulness from time to time. Try to pay attention to your body when you exercise. Focus on how your body feels - the rhythm of your breath, how your feet touch the ground or the tension from your muscles as you move. You can improve your physical condition faster and minimize negative thoughts.
Exercising with mindfulness can also help your nervous system become “unstuck” and move from any stress response that contracts PTSD and trauma. Activities that engage your arms and legs, such as walking, running, swimming, weight training, rock climbing, skiing, or dancing are all great choices to practice mindfulness.
Make it fun. Alternate among activities that emphasize different parts of your body. This also helps to keep your boredom at bay by participating in a variety of unique ways to get exercise, such as:
- Try rowing, kayaking, or paddle-boarding
- Take a weekend hike with your family
- Spend an evening ballroom dancing
- Go horseback riding
- Channel your inner child and go rollerblading
- Learn martial arts
- Go rock climbing
- Dance your calories away at Zumba or an aerobics class
- Attending a boxing class
- Get a group and play ultimate frisbee
- Swim or find a water aerobics class
- Take a yoga class
- Enjoy the beautiful weather and play golf
- Play racquetball or tennis
- Go snowshoeing, or ski cross-country
- Play sports like basketball, softball, soccer
If you are interested in reading tips for better sports performance in the Morgantown area, click here.
Allow time for rest and recovery. Many people overtrain or exercise too much without giving their bodies the proper time to rest. Their muscles and joints will become too sore or injured to see progress. Allow time for your body to rest and recover.
Listen to your body, and if you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, take a break. If you are continually not feeling well, permit yourself to take an additional day or two off.
According to Mental Health America, receiving the correct amount of quality sleep is essential to your ability to learn and process memories. Sleep helps restore your body’s energy, repair muscle tissue, and triggers the release of hormones that affect growth and appetite.
MOUNTAINSTATE ORTHOPEDIC ASSOCIATES, INC.
Talk to a medical professional if you have any questions about your health, or if you plan to start more vigorous workouts.
We want you to live a healthy and active lifestyle. If an injury arises, our physicians can diagnose and treat even the most complex orthopedic conditions. The members of our staff work closely with one another to provide best-individualized care for each patient.
At Mountainstate Orthopedic Associates, Inc., we have been providing cutting-edge orthopedic care to the Morgantown and North Central West Virginia area since 1977. We believe patient care is seeing your orthopedic surgeon at every visit.
We are committed to providing a positive state-of-the-art orthopedic experience for all of our patients. All staff members strive to be efficient, compassionate and helpful to all our patients.