Get Active and Stay Active with These 4 Strategies

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Today the take-home 1-2-3 series continues with a closer look at exercise (and a bonus tip!)...

Did you know how closely physical activity is tied to good health? They're practically joined at the hip!

Check out what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have to say about exercise: "Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health [...and] the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of getting hurt."

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans back up this assertion, maintaining "Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes [and] Some physical activity is better than none."

So now it's time to get to work on crafting that exercise routine. Here are a few tips and tricks to make that process easier and more sustainable...

Tip #1: Start Slowly

This is so much harder than it sounds. When you're just starting out with a new fitness routine, your motivation is strong and you're looking for a challenge. Why not sign up for 7 days of workout classes after being totally sedentary for a few months. More is more, right?

In this case, it isn't.

You see, by starting too hard and too fast, you run two big risks...

  • Injury
  • Burnout

The first happens because your body isn't used to exercise yet, and if you don't start slowly and increase your workload gradually, then your body doesn't have time to adjust. Fatigue impacts form, and inexperience can be dangerous if you're attempting too much too fast.

Burnout, on the other hand, happens often when you bite off more than you can chew. Sure that frenetic pace is fun and even energizing for the first few days, but after a while your body simply cannot keep up. Plus, it's harder to maintain motivation when you're utterly exhausted.

So, to avoid the twofold risks of injury and burnout, talk with your doctor and plan a gradual approach to exercise that you can sustain over time.

Tip #2: Track Your Progress

This strategy has two benefits. One, when you're tracking your workouts, you can see how much progress you've made over time, which in turn can help boost your motivation on the days that you really don't feel like working out. And two, tracking your workouts provides an extra layer of accountability, which also has been linked to increased motivation.

Sticker charts aren't just for kids. In fact, one of our editors swears by hers as a way of keeping herself on track, displaying her successes in demonstrable ways, and facilitating setting and reaching her goals.

However you choose to track your progress, we recommend that you do it.

Tip #3: Find a Buddy

You're statistically less likely to cancel a workout if you have a friend there waiting for you. With a workout buddy, you can take turns motivating each other to stick with it. Plus it's just more fun.

Group workouts also offer this accountability.

Bonus Tip: Mix It Up!

Don't fall into a rut or let yourself get bored -- this can destroy even the strongest motivation! Instead, toss in something new just to try every few weeks. Yes, not all of the new things will be winners, but you never know when you'll stumble into something you really love -- just look at my experience with bootcamps!

Handout and Homework:

Have participants read through the strategies above and pick one to try. Ask them to describe what it was about that strategy that appealed to them, then have them implement it as they craft their own workout routine. Check back in two weeks -- how is it going so far? What works? What doesn't? Why?

Plus, your handout is here:

ExerciseTips Get Active and Stay Active with These 4 Strategies

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