4 Easy Ways to Stay Active

An overweight woman walks around a track.
(Image credit: <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=97402178'>Exercise photo</a> via Shutterstock)

Do you have trouble finding the motivation to work out? Sometimes I do, too. It’s only natural. Even the most gung-ho among us have days when we really have to push ourselves to go to the gym. But if you’re trying to get into a new routine, don’t force things. If going to the gym is your thing, you just have to power through those days. But if you’re just not a gym person, you shouldn't go – ever. Why torture yourself?

Exercise is an important part of any healthy lifestyle plan, so you must get it somewhere, but it certainly doesn’t have to feel like work. In fact, a January 2013 American Journal of Health Promotion study found that short bursts of physical activity, even just one- to two-minute increments that add up to 30 minutes throughout the day, can be just as beneficial as longer bouts of exercise, like the workouts you would do at the gym.

So it seems to be okay to take the work out of your workouts, but I would suggest following these guidelines to be sure you’re not falling into sedentary patterns:

•   Make an effort to be active. Think of yourself as an active person. Does an active person take the stairs or an elevator? Does she hire someone to rake the leaves or does she do it herself? Whenever you have a choice, choose activity.

•   Become a morning person. A January 2013 British Journal of Nutrition study found that men who exercised first thing in the morning, before they even ate breakfast, burned up to 20 percent more body fat than those who exercised later.

•   Try quick bursts of exercise. There will be days when the need to sit – at work, for example – outweighs your desire to be active. When that happens, take short breaks and squeeze in quick bursts of exercise. Try a set of jumping jacks or pushups to get your heart rate up for a minute or two.

•   Keep a diary. It’s easy to fall back into old habits. So to make sure you’re getting enough movement each day, keep track with a journal. It doesn’t have to be a technical account of how many calories you may have burned. Just a log that lets you know you’re getting about 30 minutes of physical activity total for the day. After a month or two of journaling, being active should be second nature.

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!

Deborah Enos, CN, also known as "The One-Minute Wellness Coach," is The Health Coach for busy, working people. She pares her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact lives in 60 seconds or less. Deborah serves as a board member of the American Heart Association.  In addition to writing the Healthy Bites column for Live Science, Deborah is a regular on FOX Business News, NBC and ABC, and is a frequent contributor to The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine, Self Magazine, Good Housekeeping and USA Today. Deborah is also The One Minute Wellness Coach for The Doctors TV Show.