You can become more active — even if you've been a couch potato for much of the year. I've got some advice to help you get moving and stay moving:
1. Don't try to do too much too soon
A lot of people, who have been inactive for years, start out all gung ho, and they do too much exercise. Then they get injured and have to quit, rarely starting back up again. If you push yourself too far and too hard before your body is ready to handle the next workout, you can cause injury or illness or lapse into a drained and depleted condition. Too much too soon is the downfall of many good intentions.
2. Start small — maybe with a five- or 10-minute walk
As it becomes easier, then add another five minutes and continue adding until you reach 45-60 minutes. You'll be doing your body a world of good, too. In a study of middle-aged men and women, a 12-week walking program produced several key health benefits: trimmer waistline, healthier blood pressure, less fatigue and more energy, and a general sense of well-being. This study confirms what we've known for some time: Walking is good medicine.
3. Try Wii Fit and other virtual home fitness programs
A 2010 survey conducted by the American Heart Association and Nintendo of America found that active-play video games could lead to people engaging in more real-world physical activity, including walking, tennis and jogging.
4. Alternate 'easy day' and 'hard day' workouts
Once you get in an active groove, on a hard day, for example, work out for 60 minutes. On an easy day, shoot for 20 minutes. I do this myself, and I've found that it really sustains my motivation.
5. Don't fall back on the 'I don't have time' excuse
If you can't take 30 minutes to work out, then squeeze in 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes at lunch and 10 minutes after work. Shorter workouts are very effective at improving health.
6. Choose activities for exercise that are fun for you
That's what exercise should be about, but unfortunately, we have de-funned exercise in this country, making it a chore or an obligation. The more fun I'm having, the better results I get.
Next page: Choose something you're pretty good at. »