It’s a new year and you know what that means—it’s time to make that healthy weight loss resolution a reality. In addition to taking part in my Diabesity Challenge, you should start—and stick with—an exercise regimen. Here are a few tips to help get you going.
- Sign a commitment contract. Decide on a fitness goal, for instance, exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes, four times a week. Like we discussed for weight loss in general last week, you can come up with some disincentive that hits you where it really hurts—and for most people, that would be the wallet.
Pledge a significant sum of money to your least favorite charity, payable if you renege on your commitment. Write the details of your “contract” down, sign it, date it, have it witnessed, and then—and this step is very important—make it public. Tell everybody, family, friends, and co-workers about your pledge and its consequences, and keep them abreast of your progress.
- Find an exercise buddy. It’s a lot easier to stay on track if you have another person or a group of people who share your exercise goals. My wife Connie and I have a standing walking/jogging date several times a week, and knowing that she’s counting on me helps keep me motivated.
One of our clinic employees started a “Biggest Loser” competition in her neighborhood. She gets up weekday mornings for exercise sessions with her neighbors that are not only fun, but also provide a sense of camaraderie and competition that keeps everyone focused.
- Purchase a pedometer and start walking. One of the best forms of exercise—and one nearly everyone can do—is walking. If you’re like most people, you rack up about 1,000-3,000 steps doing household chores and moving about through your day. But increasing the number of steps you take daily to 10,000 or more can have tremendous benefits on your health.
An easy way to keep track of your progress is to purchase an inexpensive pedometer. These step-counting devices are available online and in drugstores and sporting goods outlets.
- Try workout videos. Another option is to get your hands on a workout video. Yoga, aerobics, weight lifting, T'ai chi—you name it, there’s a video out there that will walk you through it. Videos are a great alternative if you’d prefer to exercise in the comfort of your own home. From beginner to advanced, you’ll find several options in various formats to suit your activity level.
- Vary your activities. One of the biggest reasons people fail to stick with an exercise program is because they get bored. That’s why it’s important to vary your activities. Jog, cycle, swim, walk, do yoga, take a group exercise class—it doesn’t matter what you do, just get active.
- Don’t use bad weather as an excuse. Cold temperatures and poor weather can make exercise a drag, but don’t use them as an excuse to be a couch potato. Several of the activities mentioned above can be done right in your living room. Pop in an exercise video. Use your stairs as a stair-stepper. Buy a mini-trampoline, treadmill, or stationary bike. Join a gym.
You can also pick up the pace during household chores such as dusting and vacuuming. Again, as long as you get your heart rate up and your blood pumping, it counts as exercise.