Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental well-being.
It delivers immediate health benefits such as improved brain function, energy and mood, better sleep, and a reduction of anxious feelings. It also promotes cardiovascular health, healthy blood sugar levels, strong bones and muscles, and healthy weight.
So, how do you go from being someone who doesn’t exercise to someone who does?
Experts agree that any amount of exercise is better than none, and that the best exercise for you is the one you’ll actually do.
So, discover what physical activity is enjoyable to you and then set a low bar that you can raise over time.
Most importantly, let go of the pressure to exercise solely for your physique and/or weight loss. Research shows that too much “weight stigma” can decrease your desire to exercise.
Enjoyment and ease are the key ingredients for effective exercise. Here are several easy exercises for beginners.
There’s a reason walking is the most popular exercise in the U.S. You can do it virtually anywhere at any time, with or without company, indoors or outdoors, and at pretty much any age or fitness level. It’s low impact, yet it still provides numerous health benefits.
All you need is a good pair of shoes. Start easy and gradually increase your distance. For some, that means taking a walk around the block a few days a week.
Try using a step counting app or invest in a fitness tracker that you can wear like a watch. Marking your progress will motivate you to continue.
You can take several smaller walks throughout the day or a long one at the start or end of the day. Walk with friends. Walk with your dog. Walk in nature or in the city. Walk at lunch or during your breaks. Walk listening to music. Just walk.
A lot has been written about yoga and its stress reducing, health promoting benefits. Yoga is for everybody, young or old.
One upside of the pandemic is that many yoga classes have moved online. It’s easier than ever to find a yoga class in the comfort of your own home.
If you take a beginner or “gentle” yoga class and pay close attention to your body, you should have no problem getting started. There are also many therapeutic types of yoga designed to help people with limitations or injuries.
As you grow in strength and flexibility, you can seek out more challenging classes. Be careful though, yoga is addicting!
Though availability might be a challenge for many during the pandemic, if you have access to a pool, swim. Great for all ages and fitness levels, swimming is easy on the joints, wonderful for toning muscles and the cardiovascular system, and it burns a lot of calories.
If you don’t know how to swim, don’t worry. Find a local swim school with experts who can teach you how. When you’re ready to swim for fitness, check out lap swimming and water aerobics classes in your local area.
Or you can even jump in the deep end of a pool (or lake, or ocean) a few times a week and tread water for 20 minutes. It builds core strength and burns calories. The water will also help you feel terrific.
Remember the excitement of learning how to ride a bike? When was the last time you sped down a hill feeling as free as the wind? Talk about fun and easy. All you truly need is a bike and a helmet.
Kids love it, and adults appreciate that it’s easy on the joints.
You can get a beach cruiser to start for easy riding. If you get more serious, you might graduate to a mountain bike for challenging off-road terrain or a road bike for long distances, to increase your speed and endurance.
Make sure your bike fits you well with a comfortable saddle set at the right height. You can usually find someone at the local bike shop who can help you with these details.
Just make sure you don’t go too far or too fast. Build up slowly. Give your body time to adjust.
Is there a sport you played when you were younger or one that you’ve always wanted to play?
Well, now’s the time.
Take a beginning tennis, basketball, or volleyball class. Pickle ball (a variant of paddle tennis) has become increasingly popular and is easy to learn. Don’t overlook something as simple as playing smash ball on the beach. Sports can be synonymous with fun!
You may be drawn to adventure sports like climbing, kayaking, or standup paddle boarding. They’re all excellent for beginners, but usually require instruction.
The point with sports is to follow your joy. It could very well transform your life!
The Long Game
It might take a few tries to find an exercise that sticks. Keep at it. Once you find it, you’ll know.
Remarkably, once you get started, a world of new possibilities may open to you.
All that’s required now is a beginning.
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