Spring is finally here!
Everything seems to awaken and refresh in the spring. And it’s the perfect time to think about spring cleaning for our bodies, too. If you’ve been hibernating all winter, it’s time to get outside, stretch your legs and start to exercise again.
Spring also means that summer fashion and activities aren’t far away. Exercise helps you look and feel your best. If you haven’t been working out, now is the perfect time to start.
Your new routine should begin with a visit to the doctor’s office for a physical. Be sure to inform your doctor that you plan to exercise, and always follow his or her recommendations on any limitations or modifications.
Here are 10 easy tips to help you spring into fitness with success:
Find your “why”
It’s important to focus on your true goal. Your ability to stick with exercise and a healthy lifestyle depends on your motivation. You may want to lose weight, but why? So that you will have more energy? To reverse diabetes or high blood pressure? To be there in the future for your family? To feel more confident and comfortable in your body? Your true “why” will help you keep going. Write down your goals and keep them somewhere visible.
If you aren’t accustomed to exercising, it’s difficult to stay committed to an hour a day if you aren’t yet conditioned for that. You might start by walking for 15 to 20 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week, and gradually work your way up to more. Even 10 minutes is better than nothing. Easing into exercise can also help you remain injury-free.
I’m a fan of early morning exercise, for many reasons. But one of the biggest benefits is that your workout is already done, no matter what the rest of a busy day brings.
Set an exercise time that works for you, and whether that’s morning, noon or night – be consistent with it. Stick to it. Schedule it, like it’s an important meeting. It needs to have that kind of priority in your day so that you will get it done.
Create a plan
Rather than winging it day to day, create a formal training plan and follow it. Increase your workout time and/or intensity each week so that you progress. Take advantage of tech tools to help you keep track of your workouts, such as an app or a wearable fitness tracker. But an old-school paper journal works, too.
Build in movement throughout your day
Find little ways to get some exercise during the day. You might do this by having a walking meeting instead of in the conference room; making all calls mobile so that you can take a stroll or do lunges while on the phone; taking the stairs instead of the elevator; walking the dog; or standing or walking around rather than sitting while your child is at soccer practice.
Small spurts of walking can really add up. A 200-pound person burns about 150 calories by walking at a moderate pace (3 mph) for 30 minutes. If you do that every day for a year, that’s about 54,750 calories—or 15 pounds lost.
Take it outdoors
Take advantage of North Carolina’s spectacular spring season to enjoy outdoor exercise among beautiful blooms and perfect temperatures before summer’s heat and humidity hits. Our state offers a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities – from hiking at one of our gorgeous state parks, meandering through a flowering arboretum, or exploring a small-town spring festival.
Being active outdoors is also good for your mental health, and growing research evidence confirms its benefits. Advantages of “green exercise” – intentionally being physically active in natural environments — include stress relief, clearer thinking, enhanced mood and happiness, less anxiety, more vitality, reduced pain sensations, improved sleep, and less tension and depression (IDEA Fitness Journal, March 2018).
Get enough ZZZs
Sleep is closely linked with one’s exercise ability, according to research. A Northwestern University study found that the less sleep you get, the shorter your exercise duration the next day is going to be. It makes sense; who feels like hitting the gym when they’re exhausted?
There is also a well-documented relationship between less sleep and a high body mass index (BMI). Research has found that lack of sleep can disrupt hormone levels, making you feel hungry.
Aim for at least seven to nine hours of sleep, and you’ll be better able to stick with your healthy habits.
Exercising with a friend can be more fun than sticking to a regimen all by yourself, and it offers some accountability, too. Start a lunchtime walking group with coworkers, sign up for a yoga class with your bestie, or train together for a 5k.
Having a workout buddy can help you both stay motivated. After all, if you know a friend is waiting for you at the gym, you won’t want to stand them up.
Power your body with the right fuel
Nutrition is important for fitness. Eating a well-balanced diet can help you get the calories and nutrients you need to fuel your daily activities, including exercise.
Spring is when the farmer’s markets start up, making it easy to eat nutritious vegetables and fruits in season. Strawberries, lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, collards, and blueberries are among the spring produce you’ll find in North Carolina. Plus, strolling a farmer’s market is a nice way to get a walk in on a Saturday morning.
Seek out professional help
Have you been struggling on your own? Consider enlisting the help of a qualified health and fitness professional. A certified personal trainer can create a personalized plan and work with you one-on-one to help you reach your fitness goals and avoid injury. A registered dietitian can develop a nutrition program that uniquely fits you. Working with a professional could be one of the best investments you can make in your overall health and wellbeing.
So what are you waiting for? Spring into action today! There’s no better time than now to get started with exercise. Use Blue Connect to find out if your plan offers health coaching.
Michelle Rogers is a Certified Personal Trainer who specializes in helping women over 40 accomplish their fitness and weight loss goals, and improve their health and quality of life. Visit her blog at www.michellerogers.fit and connect on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @MRhealthyliving.