Nearly 8 out of 10 American adults don’t get enough exercise, with only 5% of adults take part in physical activity for 30 minutes a day. It’s easy to put fitness on the back burner when busy juggling the demands of work, family and social commitments. Many people feel too exhausted or uncomfortable to muster up the motivation to work out regularly, and some simply dislike exercise in general. Regardless of why fitness plans have been put on hold, these simple tips will help us get in shape when starting from a very out-of-shape place.
Filling a social media feed with marathon pics and beachfront bike rides may provide motivation but it doesn't help make a person ready for physical activities. Those of us who are out of shape really need to start slow, and work our way up with fun fitness ideas that get the heart pumping. Low- to moderate-intensity exercises, such as walking, canoeing and ping pong are great options for out-of-shape adults. As we get used to these exercises, we can advance to harder workouts such as boot camp sessions or kickboxing classes, but those are not the place to start.
It bears repeating that we should all share our plans with a familiar doctor before we tackle something new — and that goes double for those with conditions such as asthma or high blood pressure that may become aggravated by exercise.
Bring a Friend
Not in the mood for a solo session at the gym or a stroll around the block alone? Grab a friend and tackle those fitness goals together. Working out with a friend has numerous benefits and those who work out with a buddy may be more likely to stick to fitness goals. If you wouldn’t cancel a coffee date with a friend, then you may feel equally bad about bailing on a scheduled gym session.
Exercising with a friend can also provide encouragement for each and increase motivation. That’s important for those struggling with negative self-talk or doubts about their ability to get into shape. Some may even feel motivated to push harder during a workout with a friend than they would during a solo session.
As children, many of us received candy for using the bathroom, stickers for good classroom behavior or allowance for household chores. Adults generally don’t receive these same incentives but may find it helpful to create rewards for themselves. Focus on fitness-inspired rewards, such as a new pair of sneakers as reward for daily exercise over a few weeks or a pair of bright purple kickboxing gloves for a month of attendance. Or consider investing in a tracker that can help with ongoing motivation and gamifying the workouts.
Avoid using candy, ice cream or other sugary sweets as rewards. These may cancel out the good work of the exercise effort and leave you feeling hopeless about reaching goals.
Getting into shape may seem like an impossible task for those who are out of shape or never were in shape, but it's a climbable mountain for those who build and stick to a routine, however small at the outset.