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… and Move More!

In a lot of ways, it’s easier to tell people how to eat less than how to move more. We all need pretty much the same basic nutrients, and we all have a good idea what we like, but with exercise, it’s a little more complicated.

Before we get to the how, though, we have to know the why.

Why do I need to exercise?

  • “I just need to lose some weight and find something — anything — I can stick with.” This is easier than it sounds. Start by figuring out what sounds doable, and then making a very small commitment to get into a habit.
  • “I want to get good at a sport or discipline.” There are LOTS of options here – personal trainers and coaches, local sports leagues, martial arts studios, and if money is too tight, often good introductory instruction in books and videos.
  • “My doctor said I have to, to help my diabetes (or heart condition).” This is easier than it sounds. Start by figuring out what sounds doable, and then making a very small commitment to get into a habit.
  • “I told a friend I would sign up for a charity race with her.” Many charity races have advice about training, and some (like Team in Training) offer extensive coaching and group activities.

Where should I exercise?

  • At home: Best for self-starters, you can get a good workout at home if you’re organized, especially if you are OK with buying some equipment. That could be a treadmill (or my favorite: a rowing machine) or a copy of Mark Lauren’s You Are Your Own Gym. This works best if you plan to do something, even if it’s just for a few minutes, every day.
  • Outside: Also best for self-starters, vigorous outside exercise generally means running, bicycling, hiking, or team sports. It can also mean just plain walking, though, and almost everyone can use more of that.
  • In a gym: Some people need a totally Separate Place that they Go To so they can focus on exercise. Others like going to a place where people are mostly there for the same reason — even if they don’t interact directly with others, they know those people are here to exercise, too. Some people just like having lots of options — plus a locker room and shower — all in the same place. The gym is perfect for all these needs.
  • Anywhere! How about a little of each? It doesn’t have to be all at home, all at the gym, or all outside. You take walks with friends or family, find a nice cheap gym you don’t feel bad about visiting only once a week, grab a bike ride or go on a hike when the weather is good, and sign up for classes — or even races — with friends from time to time. This works best if you plan to do something, even if it’s just for a few minutes, every day.

What should I do?

Start with the basics for health:

  • Some cardio: The CDC recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate cardio (example: walking 3 miles an hour or faster), or 70 minutes per week of vigorous cardio (bicycling 10 miles a hour or faster; running or jogging)
  • Some resistance training: The CDC recommends 2 sessions per week, working all major muscles groups. Lots of things count for this: a weights machine circuit at the gym, lifting free weights, bodyweight exercises (like pushups, planks, and more), and even heavy gardening.

If this is new to you, start small! If you are making a new commitment to exercise, even a few minutes at a time is an improvement — it’s more important to get into a daily habit of being more active than to dive head first into a big program.

Are you creating a new habit of regular exercise? What helps you most? What have you had to overcome?

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