Live an Active Lifestyle with Five Easy Steps
Exercise is a key contributor to heart health. It strengthens your heart muscle, allowing the heart to become better at pumping blood and oxygen throughout your body.
If you need help staying motivated and finding ways to make exercise a part of your day, here are some helpful tips from the heart health experts at Bronson.
Set reasonable goals.
Always check with your primary care doctor before starting an exercise plan. If you have a cardiologist, be sure to get their approval as well. When you’re ready to begin, start slow.
- First, build your endurance. Thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise is a great goal. It’s best to gradually work up to it in small increments. See how long you can exercise comfortably, and then add a minute or two to each session. Stop if you experience dizziness or pain.
- If you have a big goal, like running a race or losing a lot of weight, break it into smaller goals. For example, you could set a goal for running half a mile or losing three pounds. The feeling of pride you get from achieving one small goal will encourage you to go for the next goal.
Make it a habit.
Once you’ve started your exercise plan, the next challenge is sticking to it. Here are a few tips to help you stay dedicated to working out.
- Exercise on most or all days of the week to make it a permanent part of your lifestyle. Daily activity will also give you the most heart health benefits.
- Make a plan to work out at the same time each day so it becomes routine. For example, you could walk every day from noon to 12:30 p.m.
- Get your workout clothing together the night before – right down to your socks and shoes. That way, whether you exercise in the morning or after work, you are ready to go. If you do work out in the morning, consider sleeping in your exercise clothes.
Make it fun!
Exercise doesn’t have to be all work. You can make your workout fun.
- Choose activities that you enjoy. Whether you want to walk in fresh air or learn new dance moves, you can find exercises that add pleasure to your life.
- To avoid boredom, come up with several workouts you enjoy and rotate them.
- Use music to keep you motivated to move. Audio books can keep you entertained while doing a steady activity like riding a stationary bike.
- Ask friends and family members if they want to work out with you. A partner can help you stay on track and make exercise more fun.
- Consider joining a health club or taking a class. There are many different classes and a variety of ways to work out. Boot camps, yoga, Pilates, Spinning®, Zumba®… there’s something for everyone.
Don’t get discouraged.
Even athletes have setbacks or goals they struggle to attain. Do not let challenges defeat you.
- If you miss a scheduled workout, find other ways to build activity into your day. Before shopping, park at the far end of parking lot and walk a lap or two around the store. Take your dog or a neighbor’s dog for a walk. Do sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks during television commercial breaks.
- Don't give up even if you stop exercising for a while. Get started again and slowly build back up to your old pace. Each new day is a chance to hit the “reset button.”
Track and celebrate your successes!
Just as checking an item off a to-do list feels good, tracking your exercise efforts will too.
- Write your activities down on a calendar or journal. Many electronic devices like smart phones, tablets and computers have features that can help you track your progress. Note the distance or length of time of your activity. Be sure to record how you feel after each session.
- Reward yourself when you achieve a milestone. Choose non-food items like a small gift, a salon visit or a shopping trip. Take time to celebrate even small successes.
- In addition to celebrating success, take the time to review how hard you’ve worked. Take pride in your efforts, even if you haven’t reached a goal yet.
Talk to your primary care doctor prior to starting an exercise plan. Your healthcare provider can provide additional information for safe exercising.
The Bronson Heart & Vascular team is committed to heart and vascular disease prevention, and sharing easy steps you can take to live a healthier life. Looking for a Bronson doctor to help you? For a complete list of providers at Bronson, visit bronsonhealth.com/find-a-doctor or call Bronson HealthAnswers at (269) 341-7723.