If you’ve ever found yourself in an exercise rut (and who among us hasn’t?), you know how hard it is to get back on track and resume a consistent exercise program. And if you’ve gained weight during your hiatus, it can be even tougher. I’ve found that having a positive self-image goes a long way toward helping you feel motivated and in control of your fitness goals.
If you’re not feeling motivated, it’s important to gradually introduce exercise back into your life. Otherwise, you risk feeling overwhelmed and under-enthused. And it’s perfectly fine to start with just a little movement. The weight-loss benefits may come slowly, but there are still significant payoffs to exercising just a little bit each day.
Walking just three hours a week, for example, can reduce your risk of stroke, according to a 2013 study in the journal Stroke. A 2012 National Institutes of Health study found that moderate exercise may increase your life expectancy by as much as 4.5 years.
So, if you’re just getting back on the exercise wagon, go ahead and start slowly. Just keep the following tips in mind as you plan your workouts:
Consider aerobics. If you want to get the most out of your limited workout time, choose aerobics over resistance training. A 2012 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that people who were assigned to an aerobic-training regimen lost more weight than those who did only resistance training. Exercises like dancing, cycling, running, rowing and swimming are considered aerobic. Push-ups, lunges and many Pilates exercises are considered resistance training.
Set a daily or weekly goal. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests doing about 150 minutes of exercise per week. That may sound like a lot, but if you’re committed to exercising every day, it’s only a little more 20 minutes at a day. That sounds more doable, doesn’t it?
Take it one step at a time. Here’s some more good news about that exercise time. It doesn’t even have to be done all at once. A 2013 study in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that engaging in physical activity for less than 10 minutes several times a day has the same health benefits as doing more structured exercise for a longer period of time.
Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!