Move More to Make a Difference
By: Dr. Kristin Allison, ABPN
If the idea of starting a new exercise routine feels a bit daunting, or worse, something you dread, have a goal to move more. Think about adding physical activity in small bursts throughout the day. This approach may feel more natural and easier to accomplish than a scheduled trip to the gym, especially if your previous attempts at exercise were so time consuming or demanding that you found it too difficult to continue. Instead of an all-or- nothing attitude, give yourself credit for just moving instead of sitting on the couch. Being inactive has become easier in this technology driven world. Unless you have to get up to find the TV remote or recharge your cell phone, (or hopefully not to get an unnecessary snack), screen time has made us sedentary. There are fewer reasons to get out of the car with drive thrus and garage door openers. In fact, there are less reasons to leave the house overall when you can pay bills and bank online, and you can shop from the convenience of your living room.
Our bodies are made to move. Be creative with ways to fit in any new added activity. A TV commercial can be a time to add in some arm exercises instead of going to the fridge. Take extra steps by parking the car further away or taking the stairs. Get up from your desk job to take a short walk, or just stretch. Plan a walk outside on your lunch break. It may help to invite someone. You may end up feeling energized, less stressed, and therefore less tempted by the vending machine. Finding activities you enjoy makes moving easier. Look for opportunities to play with your kids or a pet. Walk around the ball field with another parent during a child’s sport practice. Try to find a buddy to meet at the track. Maybe you just want to turn on the music and dance.
Starting to move in a gentler manner is helpful when weight, shortness of breath, or pain limits mobility. Talk to your doctor about your specific physical condition. You may find time in a pool or aqua aerobics more comfortable. Stretching or yoga can increase your flexibility and relieve stress. Variations of exercises are available while sitting in a chair or using your upper body. Build up your activity slowly. Walking to the mailbox and back, taking one lap around your apartment complex, or setting a timer for 5 minutes on your stationary bike may be great ways to begin. As your endurance improves and you are reaching a lower weight, moving should get easier which may motivate you to do even more.
So make it your goal to move more. Remember that every little bit (and step) counts both for burning calories that may help with weight loss and reinforcing healthier habits for a more active lifestyle.