For most adults, exercising does not come naturally. While you may have played sports or worked out as a child or young adult, for most adults who must juggle the responsibilities of careers and children, exercise might as well be a foreign word. Still, just like sleep and a balanced diet, exercise is a necessary component of good health. And, as they say, if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. If you have become overly focused on parenting and work such that you feel as though you couldn’t possibly have time to fit in some physical activity, think again. Being a good parent and good worker is much easier when you add that extra boost of energy that regular exercise confers. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Start small.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, achieving a healthy level of fitness does not happen instantly. Most adults who decide to take up an exercising routine begin by doing too much too often, which can lead to burnout. Once you’re discouraged, you’ll quickly go back to your old sedentary routine. The best way to keep going is to take small steps each and every day. Instead of having hours-long workouts at an expensive gym two times a week, go for a thirty minute jog every other day.
2. Fit in physical activity as you go about your day.
For those who are pressed for time, exercise is likely the last thing on your mind. If you find that you truly cannot set aside enough time for a daily workout routine, figure out ways that you incorporate moderately rigorous activity into the tasks you do already. For example, instead of driving to work, take public transportation and get off at a stop that’s a mile or so away from your office. Anytime you have stairs as an option, climb them instead of using the elevator. You can also take a walk around your block while you wait for your clothes to dry. The key to fitting in exercise is to single out moments in your day when you aren’t doing anything, and use them as opportunities to get active.
3. Be consistent.
Being consistent is perhaps the most important part of establishing an exercise routine. Once you force yourself to exercise periodically for several months by being consistent about your routine, exercise will become a habit that’s hard to break. Although it may be hard to believe, good habits are just as bad to break as bad habits. Once you’ve been consistent for a long period of time, you’ll exercise without even thinking about, just like brushing your teeth.
4. Do an activity that you enjoy.
One aspect of exercise that many adults find particularly unappealing is that exercise is downright unpleasant. Feeling like a hamster on a wheel while running on the treadmill is certainly no one’s idea of fun. The thing about exercise is that it doesn’t have to be about become a boring gym rat. Exercise takes on many forms—sports, dance, swimming, whatever. Find an heart-pumping activity you enjoy and go out there and do it!
5. Find a partner in crime.
Even if you applied all the above steps in establishing an exercise routine, you may still find that you can’t quite follow through. Lack of motivation is the number one killer of any routine, and one of the best ways to find motivation is to seek it out from other people. When someone else depends on you to exercise with them, you’ll feel more obliged to carry out your routine. Find a friend, acquaintance, or family member who can commit to a flexible but consistent exercise routine with you.
As the New Year unfolds, it’s time to finally commit to focusing on your overall health—mind, body, and soul. While establishing an exercise routine may at first seem daunting, think of it as an investment in you—and your family’s—wellbeing.