It’s that time of year to be outdoors in the beautiful Yampa Valley. As part of the Wellness and Community Education Program at Yampa Valley Medical Center, we are challenging our employees to “spring into motion.” Won’t you join us? Take the 28-day challenge to shake the winter doldrums and get moving again.
The only way for exercise to become a habit is if you commit to doing something every day. A habit becomes a habit through ritual and repetition. For exercise to become a habit, it does not have to be a grueling experience. Just think about your day ahead, and carve out time for a 15- to 30-minute walk; take a yoga class; visit the ice rink for a public skate session; or fit in 25 situps, pushups, squats, lunges or wall-sits during the next set of television commercials.
Regardless of your fitness level, develop a fitness goal that’s within your reach. For example, promise yourself you’ll be able to swim 500 yards or jog 2 miles without stopping. Sign up for a fun run, bike ride or triathlon. Better yet, get a group of friends together and enroll as a team where each person does a different leg of the race. With every accomplishment, you’ll have the confidence to set and achieve more challenging goals.
Preparing for more activity requires that you know your limits and capabilities so you can challenge yourself and set realistic goals.
Beginning exercisers: Get started
Choose an activity you enjoy. Explore nearby parks, trails, lakes or ponds. To stay motivated, exercise with friends, join a bike club or softball league or take a kick-boxing class. Move at a level that leaves you short of breath but still able to carry on a conversation. Start out slowly so you don’t get sore or overly tired. Most important, make your activities convenient, fun and sustainable so you can stick with your plan.
Regular exercisers: Pick up the pace
If you already are exercising consistently, consider mixing in some higher intensity activities every few days to boost your current routine. For example, add hills to your walking/running routine. Active rest days also are important as you add higher-intensity workouts. You can incorporate a light 20-minute workout or do a different activity instead of skipping your exercise routine completely.
Advanced exercisers: Keep it varied
Incorporate several activities to work different muscles, avoid overstraining and find new motivation. Try to power up your workout by pushing your body a little harder and including more interval training with bursts of intensity.
All exercisers: Gain strength
Strength begins to decline gradually in your 30s and continues to decrease by 15 percent between ages 50 to 70. Some experts advise that as you age, you need to split your time between aerobic exercise and strength training. If you have not done much strength training before, consider meeting with a certified personal trainer to get started. If you have done strength training, consider taking an exercise class in order to get some new workout ideas and to give your muscles a different training effect.
If your fitness program went into low gear this winter, spring is a great time to get it back on track by setting and meeting new exercise challenges. There are 1,440 minutes in a day, so try to carve out 20 to 30 of those minutes for exercise.
Keep exercise convenient, fun and sustainable so you can stick with it. Plan ahead. Think about what can you do every day — not just on days when you have time, have a walking partner, aren’t too tired or it isn’t too warm, cold, sunny, rainy or windy, but every single day from today on. To improve your health, you need to plan ways to simply move more.
Lisa Bankard is the director of the Wellness and Community Education Program at Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.