According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular exercise can help keep your thinking, learning and judgment skills sharp as you age, reduce your risk of depression and help you sleep better. In other words: exercise invigorates you.For most people, the main factor preventing regular exercise is time. It probably won’t be easy, but if you look critically at your schedule and get creative, you can probably find time to slip in exercise. Staying active doesn’t have to entail a 10-mile run or 100 pushups. Try little things like parking further away at the store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Try 50 curls with an exercise band at lunch, 20 sit-ups in the morning or walking to lunch instead of driving.
To get to a healthy you, it’s important to set goals. Start by setting small, easy to achieve goals and increase them as you feel you can do more. Set a long-term goal you can work toward, like jogging five miles or doing 50 pushups. Write these goals down and leave them someplace you’ll see often, like your refrigerator, wallet or bedroom door.
The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Service’s recommends getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This can come in the form of several short activities throughout the day, so try to mix it up: maybe a few pushups and sit-ups in the morning, a walk after lunch and end the day by shooting a few hoops with friends before dinner.
Take the Gym Home
After a few weeks of light exercise, you might want to take a step up to more strenuous workouts (but remember not to take on more than you can handle). Gyms can provide a lot of good equipment and classes, but can be expensive. With a little research, you can get the same quality exercise you would at a gym, without paying the high membership cost. The local parks and recreation department should be the first stop.
Find out about community events or leagues online, or call the city directory. From basketball to volleyball and soccer, there’s usually an indoor or outdoor activity to participate in without dipping heavily into your checkbook.
If team sports don’t tickle your fancy, maybe your local gym’s exercise machines and free weights are more your thing. But if you’d like to avoid muscle-bound brutes covered in protein powder and hand chalk, here are some alternatives to help you bring the gym home:
• Use water jugs for curls and squats in place of free weights.
• Try jogging and jumping drills instead of a treadmill or StairMaster.
• Lunges and squats can replace a leg-press machine.
• Pushups work the same muscles as a bench press.
• Sit-ups and crunches don’t need added weight to be effective.
For help making a personal workout, go to cdc.gov/physicalactivity.
Taking even small steps toward a healthy lifestyle now can save a lot of money down the road. Exercising at least 30 minutes per day, matched with a healthy diet, can prevent trips to the doctor. That means fewer unpaid sick days at work or less makeup days at school. In the time it takes to watch one TV show, you can be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.