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Getting started with exercise is easier than you think

We all know that exercise is awesome for us. So why is it so hard to get started? Getting started on a new exercise program, especially when we haven’t been moving much recently, can seem overwhelming. And it can be daunting to go to a gym. Why does everyone seem so “fit?” “How do I work these weight machines anyway?” But here’s the thing: exercise has some truly amazing benefits for your body and mind, like:

  • Less stress. Exercise can decrease stress, which can help you feel better overall. Plus, it boosts your energy level so you can focus on the important things in your life.
  • A better mood. Activity releases natural endorphins, the body’s happy hormones. And exercise has been proven to be effective in battling – and even preventing — the blues.
  • Higher energy level. Exercise can actually increase your energy levels. Sometimes you’ll notice it right away, and sometimes it comes more gradually. Tracking your feelings and energy over time can be a great way to recognize the subtle improvements in your energy.

These all sound great, right? Here are a few more tips to get you off the couch and into the gym (even if your “gym” is an exercise mat in front of the television):

  • Any kind of exercise is good exercise. You don’t have to keep up with the kickboxing gurus or the marathon runners — walking and swimming are perfect. What’s important is that you set your goals and get moving. Be kind to yourself — movement doesn’t have to be grueling or painful to be great for you.
  • Every movement counts. Moving your body even in small ways can build endurance and stamina. Almost any activity can count as exercise if it raises your heart rate and works your muscles. Vacuuming, sweeping, washing the car, walking the mall and other daily tasks can help build stamina and increase your activity level.
  • Take it slow. Even a little exercise is better than no exercise. Don’t overwhelm yourself in the beginning by expecting yourself to do 30 minutes a day three times a week. Start off with 10 or even 5 minutes a day. Work with your doctor to figure out what’s best for your physical condition. Walking to the mailbox or even dusting the house with gusto can be a great way to start working movement into your routine.

No matter how you choose to move, try to keep your goals in mind as you do it. And make sure to reward yourself at the end of each day or each week when you’ve met your goals. Try self-care rewards like a bubble bath, reading a novel, renting a good movie, calling a friend or just checking “exercise” off of your to-do list for the day.

Need help with creating and sticking with healthy habits and boosting your activity? The Attain app helps you go beyond fitness by rewarding you for taking care of your health. Plus, you can earn points for hitting daily and weekly activity goals. Download today in the App Store. 

This material provides a general overview of the topic. Health information is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a therapist, physician or other health care professional. Contact a health care professional with any questions or concerns about specific health care needs.