4 Steps to Help You Get Back in Shape

You haven’t worked out since your 12-year old was born?  Or worse, since high school gym class?  Don’t despair – it’s never too late to get back into shape.

If starting an exercise program seems impossible, don’t sweat it.  Well, a little sweat may be involved, but shaping up is easier than you think. Especially when you’re smart about it.

Working Out = Wellness

In this age of obesity, diabetes and joint problems, exercise and weight loss have never been more important. Millions of Americans are at risk of chronic, costly and even life-threatening medical conditions because they ignore their bodies’ need for exercise.  And yet, getting into shape involves taking just a few steps.

Step One:  Start Walking

Walking is the best way to begin exercising.  Buy an odometer and track your steps. Look for ways to add more steps each day: Park at the back of the parking lot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Walk over your lunch hour or after work with friends or family. Hike to the neighborhood coffee shop. Hop on a treadmill while you watch TV or when you read.

Start easy. Walk 15 minutes daily, three days a week. Gradually build up to 30 minutes or more, at least five times a week. As you get fit, walk more briskly. If you can talk in one sentence conversations, your pace is perfect.

Step Two: Get into a Routine 

Make walking part of your daily routine. Block out time on your schedule each day to “get your steps in.” After about three months, your mind and body will become so energized by exercise, that you’ll feel uncomfortable if you DON’T work out.

Step Three:  Add Other Activities to the Mix

As you start seeing results, challenge yourself. Add more time, steps or inclines to your daily walk. Try running part of the way. Better yet, add fun activities like biking, weights, Pilates or Zumba. Look for things you enjoy – you’ll be more apt to stick with it.  Who knows, you may love your new body so much that you achieve things you didn’t think possible, like a marathon or half marathon. And the best part? As you add muscle, your body burns more calories, even when you’re not exercising.

Step Four:  Keep at it

The thing that gets in the way most often for new exercisers is excuses:  no time, caring for children, work. Overcome your excuses with creative thinking. Ride your bike to your son’s neighborhood soccer game. Give up 30 minutes of Facebook time to exercise.  Don’t give up and quit before you’ve given yourself a chance to succeed!

Some medical conditions can make it hard to lose weight and exercise, but that’s no excuse for not trying your best.  Taking care of yourself sets a positive example for your kids and other family members.  So step up.  Your health is worth it. Don’t be like some people who find out too late that prevention is much better than trying to manage a serious disease.

Meet the Author

Richard Lusis, MD is an Internal Medicine Physician at Aurora Advanced Healthcare in Cedar Creek and Mequon, Wisconsin

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The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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