If you could put all of the benefits of exercise into a pill, literally, everyone would take it! Everything from your weight, to your blood pressure, mood, sleep, energy levels, and risk of cancer, are all improved with exercise!
Ensure a Safe Start
With so many exercise trends out there like Cross fit, Pilates, Tai Chi, Yoga, and Zumba (just to name a few), where does one safely start? This 7-question screening form can give you an idea if you need to talk to your physician before you get started. However, If you have any concerns at all, I always recommend speaking with your doctor first.
Once you have the green light, what’s next? If you haven’t been doing anything, I like to tell people walking is one of the best and easiest forms of exercise. All you need are your shoes and a safe place to walk.
You can start with something as small as a 5 minute walk out, then a 5 minute walk back. As you feel more comfortable, increase your distance and time. A general rule of thumb is to not increase more than 10% time, distance, weight (if you are doing resistance training) at a time. Also, remember to listen to your body. In terms of intensity, you should be working hard enough that you can still talk to another person, but are not able to sing. If you can sing your favorite song, pick up the pace! If you want some structure, you can even download a free app such as, couch to 5K, which is designed to take you from no activity, to completing your first 5K.
…but Aim For the Stars!
Your ultimate goal should be to get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity (i.e. a brisk walk) 5 days per week, or 150 minutes per week. If you are looking for a free walking group, the non-profit Walk With a Doc is a great place to find a walking group near you with on-site physicians. Lastly, if you need some motivation to get started, here are a few of my favorite quotes…
– “Yesterday you said tomorrow.”
– “If you wait for the perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.”
– “No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch.”
Today is your day to get moving!
Jon Bonnet is a current Sports Medicine Fellow at the University of Florida. Dr. Bonnet completed his Family Medicine residency at Duke University. He is an American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and serves on the board of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Check him out at his linkedin profile.