Baby Step Your Way to a Healthy Exercise Routine
You hear it all the time: “Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.”
In fact, scientific data compiled by the U.S. Surgeon General shows that the benefits of exercise include:
- Reduced risk of premature death
- Development of healthy muscles, bones, and joints
- Reduced risk of developing or dying from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure
- Maintained or reduced body weight and/or body fat
- Reduced risk of developing breast cancer and colon cancer
- Improved psychological well-being and reduced depression and anxiety
But if you have been living a somewhat sedentary lifestyle, incorporating exercise into your daily routine can seem daunting.
What You Need to Be Doing
The American Heart Association recommends “at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise.”
That’s two and a half hours of exercise per week. If you feel like your daily schedule is already packed, you may think that there is no way you can reach this goal, but it may be simpler than you think.
Breaking down the Numbers
Those 150 minutes of exercise can be broken down into 30 minutes of exercise on five days a week. Does 30 minutes still seem too long? The American Heart Association points out that you will still experience the benefits of exercise if you divide those 30 minutes into two 15-minute intervals or three 10-minute intervals per day.
Many people who live a sedentary lifestyle find 10 minutes to be a more manageable requirement. If you exercise for 10 minutes in the morning, another 10 minutes at lunch, and a final 10 minutes after work, you will reach the recommended goal.
What Is Considered Exercise?
Exercise is any physical activity that causes you to move your body and burn calories. This means you can count walking your dog or climbing the stairs as part of your exercise routine (as long as you are moving for at least 10 minutes).
Typically, exercise falls into three categories:
- Aerobic exercise, which is good for your heart, includes walking, running, stair climbing, swimming, biking, and similar activities.
- Strength training, which is good for your overall stamina, muscle building, and fat burning, includes weight lifting and resistance training.
- Stretching, which improves your flexibility and protects your muscles, includes various muscle stretches.
For maximum benefits, you should try to incorporate all three forms of exercise in your weekly routine.
Set Smaller Goals to Reach the Recommendations
When you are first starting an exercise program, it is OK if you cannot reach the recommended amount of exercise right away. Remember, some exercise is still better than no exercise.
If 30 minutes of exercise on five days per week is too much, start with something smaller. Set a goal that will ease you into the exercise routine. Try to exercise for 30 minutes on three days per week or for 10 minutes on five days. Once you are able to achieve that goal consistently, begin to add time to your goal.
Taking baby steps in your exercise routine can actually be the best moves you can make. By gradually increasing your exercise routine, you have a better chance to continue with your program.
One Last Note
Remember, if you haven’t exercised in a while (or never), you will not be able to jump right in and compete with friends who have been regularly exercising for some time. Don’t start at their level – start at a level that is comfortable for you. Also, be sure to discuss any new exercise routine with your doctor before you begin.