Ready to jump start a healthier lifestyle, but not quite sure how to do it? Feeling a little intimidated by the process of getting back into shape? Looking for fitness tips that will really make a difference—but that you can handle?
There are little things you can do to help your body in a big way every single day. If you don’t believe me, try doing every single one of these every single day for a month. There is no way you will not improve your overall mental and physical outlook. And these are perfect for everyone, because you can adapt them to your lifestyle, schedule and ability. As you achieve better fitness, take each one up a notch!
1. Keep moving! Walk or take the stairs every day
You don’t have to be a world-class athlete to get fit—you just have to move. And you don’t need hours to walk for fitness. Even someone with a very moderate level of fitness can walk a mile in 15 to 20 minutes. And you can do it.
Walking is wonderful for your body and your mind. It builds lean muscle, gets your blood pumping, burns calories, reduces risk of cancer, works your heart, lowers incidence of osteoporosis, reduces stress, enhances immune function, and improves digestion, all while you take a break outside. And if it’s too cold, take a break at work on the stairs or in the hallway. All you need is 5,280 feet to walk, or 1,609 meters!
And while you’re at it, switch from the elevator to the stairs. Stair climbing is a fantastic resistance exercise that strengthens your heart rate and legs. Even if you don’t set aside special stair climbing time, just taking stairs instead of passively riding lifts is a positive fitness step.
Although there are all kinds of fancy flavored waters and expensive “energy” drinks on the market, you don’t need any of them, and most of them aren’t good for you. Soda is terrible for your health, including the “diet” versions. The bottom line is that your body needs water to thrive and if you’re anything like most of us, it’s not getting enough.
Six to eight glasses of water every single day will improve your fitness in ways you may not believe. You will stay hydrated and have better energy. Your body will feel better because water helps your digestion, and you will be able to exercise more effectively. Your skin will look more vibrant as your body flushes toxins away when it’s hydrated.
Everyone loves a good glass of wine or an ice cold beer, but honestly either one is a big glass of calories that will dehydrate you. In moderation you’re fine; have a glass with your dinner. But on your nights out, slow way down. Swap out at least one of what would be a cocktail for a water.
3. Take the long way: in the parking lot and at the park, too
Don’t play the parking game anymore. Instead (as long as it’s safe and you aren’t disabled) park across from the door and walk across the lot and back again when you’re done. Not only are you getting a little extra exercise in, you’re also eliminating the silly stress of competing for spaces.
The next time you visit a park or walk through the neighborhood, don’t cut right through on your usual route. Meander around, take the long way. And if you need a loyal assistant, take the dog! Your faithful friend is the master of going the long way, because he loves to be active. Follow his four-legged lead!
4. Move in front of the TV
Listen, far be it from me to tell you not to watch your favorite shows. Believe me, I get it; I look forward to my mindless television time. But you can make the most of that time just like my karate sensei taught me to years ago: just stay on your feet and make the time count. He used to tell us to stand in one stance for each quarter of our favorite sports game, and a fifth for halftime. In truth I don’t watch football, but I took his lesson to heart; before I knew it I was sweating in front of the TV, basically doing a resistance squat or lunge throughout my favorite shows. If you don’t feel like doing that, do a plank, whatever you like. Or wait until it’s time for commercials and then do something active like push-ups or ab work!
5. Bring your lunch to work
Between the bagel cart, take out for lunch, and the vending machine, most of us don’t end up eating all that well at work—and we spend way too much money anyway! Do your body and your bank account a solid by bringing your lunch to work. Have as your goal one piece of fresh fruit, one high protein item, a whole grain item, and a vegetable in each lunch. If you plan ahead you can do this easily and cheaply. . .and deliciously!
Fitness isn’t something that happens overnight, but it doesn’t have to be as tough as it can seem. It’s not about changing every aspect of your life, or about attaining perfection. It’s about moderating your lifestyle so that you’re moving in the right direction. Take these five easy tips and run with them for a month; see if you don’t feel like a new person! I think you will.