The hardest part of getting fit is starting. You may have spent years as a happily sedentary person, only to realize that you need to make a change. While it won’t be easy, there are things you can do to make the transition less frightening. Below are eight ways you can resume physical activity after years of staying still.
Make a Plan
It’s always a good idea to start by planning. What are your realistic fitness goals? Where do you see yourself in a month? In a year? Answer these questions and then figure out how to go to that goal. This isn’t something you need to broadcast to the world – in fact, doing so can actually reduce your motivation. Write down your goals and put them somewhere where you can view them, checking in with yourself at regular intervals. With this little bit of extra motivation, you should be able to force yourself to get up and get moving once again.
Don’t Go Too Fast
One of the major mistakes people make when trying to go from sedentary to active is going too fast. It’s good that you want to get on your feet again, but it might not be a good idea to try to tackle a marathon at the beginning. Not only will this end up disappointing you, but it can actually cause you injuries. Spend the first few weeks of your new plan trying to get used to basic physical activity again. It will probably hurt and you’ll definitely regret some of your choices, but you’ll learn more about your body’s limits this way.
While having an overall plan is a great idea, sometimes it’s better to start with the basics. The most effective way to become physically active is to start walking. There’s nothing easier than going for a walk because there’s no strings attached. If you have any degree of mobility in your legs, you can walk. There’s no gym membership, no fees, and no equipment. Even a quick walk around your workplace every day can help to make a major change in your level of fitness. Start walking and you’ll be able to push yourself farther.
It may also be important to bribe yourself to get moving. Find something you really want and tie your ability to do it to your newfound activity goal. If there’s a concert you want to go to, for example, only allow yourself to buy tickets after a week of working out. If there’s a new movie you want to buy, make that your reward after losing a certain amount of weight. Giving yourself rewards will make it easier for you to stay active.
It’s easier to stay fit when you involve others. Don’t tell everyone about your plans to get in shape, but do tell others that you’d like them to come along when you’re doing physical activities. While the former sets you up for unrealistic expectations, the latter gives you support when you need it the most. It’s harder to cancel on exercise plans when someone else is there waiting for you and you certainly don’t want to be the reason why your team isn’t able to play a game. Involve others to force yourself to get moving.
Make it Fun
Fitness doesn’t have to be a chore. Try to list the things you enjoy doing and find a way to make them more physically active. Enjoy playing video games? If so, you might want to move into a real-world equivalent like paintball or laser tag. Enjoy watching movies? Bring your smartphone and watch a film while you’re on the treadmill. Find something you truly enjoy, figure out how you can do it while moving, and allow yourself to get in better shape. Exercise can and should be more fun than most people think, so don’t punish yourself just because you want to get more physically active.
Make Small Changes
Making small changes in your life can be far easier than trying to set up an exercise plan. Try to park farther from the entrance when you go to work, take the stairs instead of taking the elevator, or even walk instead of taking the bus – these changes might be small, but they can add up over time. Once you start to make being active a part of your typical day, undertaking more strenuous activities will be easier. You must condition yourself to think of physical activity as a normal part of life.
Finally, learn to accept the fact that you will make mistakes. There will be days on which you cannot get out of bed. You will make the wrong choices when it comes to meals, you’ll skip leg day, and you’ll choose to binge watch a TV show instead of going for a run. Accepting that this happens will allow you to brush off your mistakes and start over again. Physical activity doesn’t require perfection, it just requires willpower. The more willing you are to forgive yourself for mistakes, the more likely you will be to stay on the right path.
You have all the tools you need to go from sedentary to physically active. Make a plan, give yourself a chance to succeed, and always find new sources of motivation. If you are dedicated enough to your goals, you’ll find that they truly can be accomplished.