Nature is stirring to life, the weather is warming up, and the outdoors is calling. Are you ready to pick up the pace and get more active for summer?
Being more physically active isn’t just great for your health, it can also boost your energy, lift your mood, and help reduce stress. We know this intellectually, but it can be hard to shake off that winter inertia and change our habits. If you want to get more active, but you’re not sure how to start, here are a few strategies to help you get moving.
Any time you want to make a change in your lifestyle, consistency is the number one goal. No matter what your long-term aspirations are, you’ll only get there if you can make your new habit stick. Setting your expectations too high too soon is a quick way to lose your motivation.
The best exercise plan is the one that you can consistently do. It’s better to walk ten minutes every day than it is to plan to walk 30 minutes every day but quit after the first week. Start where you are, and increase your activity gradually as your body and mind adapt. Once you master your habit, add ten more minutes to your workout, or an extra block to your walk. You’ll build confidence and motivation as you see yourself succeed.
Make It Social
Many people find it more motivating to exercise with a buddy or in a group. Turning your workout into a friend-date not only makes it more fun, it keeps you accountable to each other so that you’re less likely to skip it. That’s been tough with a pandemic keeping us isolated through the chilly fall and winter months. But now that the weather’s warmer, outdoor exercise dates are a thing again.
You could plan a group hike on alternating weekends, get some folks together for a casual weekly ball game, or just schedule a regular walk-and-talk with a friend. If you can’t find a local buddy, call someone up for a chat as you walk around the neighborhood. Or, sign up for a fun group dance class — there are lots of classes happening in parks right now — and meet some new people.
Feed Your Joy
Exercising is easy when it feels like its own reward. If you have a passion for walking or rock-climbing, or you find your flow when you’re running or swimming, you’ll be happy every time you do it. If you aren’t sure what kind of activity you’ll enjoy, give yourself some time to experiment, take some classes, and do something new that you’ve always wanted to try. You’ll keep things fresh and interesting, and you might just discover an unexpected passion.
Piggyback Onto Your Passion
If you haven’t yet found an activity you love, you can boost your motivation by combining exercise with something else you love. For instance, if you love the outdoors, make it a goal to explore a new area each weekend on foot or by bike. If reading or thought-provoking discussions make you come alive, try listening to a great audiobook or podcast on your walk. If music is your jam, try dancing or working out to the beat of your favorite tunes. You can even turn your workout into a guilty pleasure by setting up a stationary bike or treadmill in front of your favorite show.
When physical activity feels like a natural part of your lifestyle, you won’t have to think twice about doing it. Start with easy, repeatable habits, find a buddy, keep it fun, and piggyback onto your passion, and you’ll have a new habit in no time.