Written by Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA
Raise your hand if you feel like you’re in a fitness rut. If you are, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, lace up and get moving.
We all know that with regular exercise comes great health benefits. Regular exercise can improve the quality of your life, lower your risk of certain cancers, strengthen your muscles and bones, and improve your mental health and mood. Overall, it’s great for your wellbeing.
If you’ve been in a slump and you want to get moving again, don’t overthink it. Whatever you do, don’t let the word ‘exercise’ turn you off. If you equate exercise with the elite athletes — and you know that’s not the level you’re at, you might stay in that rut and hinder any progress. Simply start small and just start moving. Tiny steps can make a huge difference. Plus, you can still reap great health benefits. Choose what works for you and don’t force a specific type of exercise that just isn’t a good fit. You’ll know what’s right for you when you find it.
So how much exercise do you really need? The simplest rule outlined by federal guidelines recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, five days a week. It’s recommended for Gen Z to millennials and Gen X to boomers (18-64 years of age.) Of course, if you increase your level of activity, you’ll gain greater health benefits.
Remember, there’s no one size fits all—start where you are—if you can only exercise two days instead of five, do that. You know your body best. Do what works for you. Any movement is better than sitting idle.
If you can’t commit to 30 minutes—break it into nuggets. Maybe 15 minutes two times per day or 10 minutes three times per day. Decide what you would like to do.
Here are some easy ways to start:
- If you’re an outdoor lover, then get outside. Walk, hike, run, cycle, swim — choose what you love.
- Choose the time of day that works best for you.
- Be prepared and lay out your athletic wear the night before. Being prepared will help you get started because you won’t be stressing out wondering where you put your activewear and sneakers.
- If you prefer staying indoors—and you belong to a gym—awesome. Go enjoy your favorite class—spin, Zumba, Pilates, barre etc. If not, you can reap great health benefits at home.
If you have an elliptical, stationary bike, or treadmill, use that. Make sure you take the laundry off it first and begin.
I like to say, design a little healthy exercise nook in your home. It can be anywhere. Wherever you have some room to move around. Keep these items in your exercise basket. Think of it as a fitness toolkit that looks chic in your cozy home:
- Foam roller – to target sore muscles
- Stability ball – to work on your core strength
- Yoga mat – to improve your flexibility
- Jump rope – to get your heart rate up
- Hula hoop – another excellent core workout
- Weights – for toning and strength
These items may seem super simple, but they are fun and will get you moving.
We can’t forget that we can reap health benefits without even knowing it. Here’s a list of ways to sneak exercise into your day:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park your car at a distance from the entry and walk
- If you commute, walk to the bus, train or subway
- Take a walk at lunch
- Need to schedule a meeting? Make it a walking meeting
- Dance, just turn on your favorite playlist and move
- Play with your kids in the park
- Play fetch with your dog
- Go on a long walk with your dog
- Walk to a farmers market
- Housework – it may not sound fun but it’ll get you moving
Remember, taking tiny steps every day can help you design a life that brings you joy.
Have fun and enjoy!
Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA is a freelance writer, an award-winning broadcast journalist, health educator, international speaker, lifestyle, wellness & health designer™, on-air health & wellness expert. She has appeared on ABC, NBC, and FOX. Using healthy design she helps busy people create vibrant well living spaces, and she is the founder of BarbaraFicarra.com. Barbara continues to practice nursing at a level II trauma center and health system in the NJ. She’s a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, the Honor Society of Nursing, and is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Barbara is a health educator and sits on the advisory board at Sharecare, Inc. and is an advisory board member at the University of San Fransisco for the Master of Science program for Health IT. Barbara is a member of the Academy of Judges for the Sharecare Awards in Association with the Emmys®—The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, NY Chapter—coming soon!