Being overweight does not matter when it comes to staying active. What does matter is making the choice to become and stay healthy, in spite of your weight. Nurses, you are never too sedentary, or too heavy, to begin a journey to healthful living.
The road to a healthier lifestyle must include some kind of physical activity along with a healthy eating plan.* In fact, lack of exercise and poor diet are the second-largest underlying cause of death in the United States. (Smoking is the #1 cause.) Being active not only reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, but it also allows you to cope better with stress, sleep better, and just feel good about yourself.
Get Past the Barriers: You may be reluctant to start exercising even though you know it’s what you need to do to achieve and maintain good health. You may even be afraid that physical activity will harm you, or maybe you’re embarrassed to exercise because you think it is only for people who look great in workout clothes. Maybe you have physical challenges to overcome, or even time restraints. The first step is to think of these challenges as hurdles, not roadblocks.
Get Started: Set yourself up to succeed right from the start by setting goals, with your primary focus being the healthful benefits of being less sedentary and more physically active. Make these goals…
- Believable – “I will walk my dog.”
- Specific – “I will walk my dog around the block every morning.”
- Measurable – “I will start by walking my dog around the block 3 times, and try to increase the distance by one block every week.”
- Positive – “I will allow myself to watch TV after I have taken my walk.”
- Realistic – “Can I fit this into my daily schedule?”
- Controllable – “Can I do this by myself, or do I need help?”
Keep in mind that advancing your health does not require an hour at the gym every day, or sweating profusely on the treadmill. It does not even require one thirty minute session of moderately intense walking a day. You simply need to accumulate thirty minutes of moderately intense physical activity on most days of the week. This does not have to be done through organized exercise programs, although they may be the best choice for motivating you to continue. It can be as simple as walking for ten minutes on your lunch break and then mowing the lawn in the evening. Start from where you are at now and work up from there, and remember that the first step is always the hardest.
Activities Regardless of Your Body Weight: Here are some suggestions of activities to choose:
- Deep water walking
- Rowing machine
- Cycling on a stationary bicycle
- Water aerobics
- Golf, without a cart
- Tai Chi
- Exercise Videos
Staying Motivated: When it comes to motivation, the first month is crucial. If you can increase your physical activity for one month you will have passed a critical landmark in making it become a life-long habit. Here are 6 tips to help you stay motivated during that first month and beyond.
- Believe in yourself, and know that every little bit of activity will add up to big results over time.
- Activity does not have to take the form of an actual workout. Move more whenever you can. Use small blocks of time to stretch or pace.
- Schedule mini-breaks of 10-15 minutes of physical activity throughout the day.
- Turn on some tunes. Music is a fantastic motivator.
- Enlist the support of a buddy. Being active is always more fun with a friend.
- Track your activity progress in a fitness journal. Review your victories and successes weekly. You may even want to reward yourself for completing your goals with activities you enjoy, such as watching a good movie or shopping for clothes.
Make a commitment today to increase your activity level, even if it's only a few minutes a day. Find your own way to stay active, embrace it and make it work for you.
*This article only addresses the physical activity aspect of a healthy lifestyle. If you are interested in weight loss and nutrition, consult with a Registered Dietitian for advice.
If you have a specific fitness question for Alice, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Alice Burron is an affiliate spokesperson and highly successful personal trainer for the American Council on Exercise. She earned a master’s in physical education with an emphasis in exercise physiology from the University of Wyoming and is a leading national fitness and wellness program expert.
Click here to learn more on Alice Burron.
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