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Lifestyle Choices for Wellness

Timely discussion on topics of health and wellness to encourage action and improvement in personal wellness.

7/27/2012- Where to begin, where to begin?

Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight – even improve your sleep habits and self-esteem.

I was moved to discuss this topic via blog this week because of some recent interaction with my co-workers. As mentioned in my first post, I get asked all the time "what should I do?"-last week it was asked in regards to physical activity by my office mates. One conversation led to another and now I am in charge of the weekly office fitness challenge. I propose a weekly task, such as "walk 1/2 mile 3 times this week" and everyone is accountable for executing the goal on their own.
Now, these tasks are easier for some than others, so if you struggle to stick with a work out routine, or if you have the desire to start an exercise program, but feel like you physically can't and are overwhelmed with where to start, this post is dedicated to you. Its NEVER too late to start exercising, no matter what your physical capacity. Everything starts from something.

Making the personal decision to begin exercise is the first step. Committing to make it a priority in your life is the next.Often, the biggest challenge you will face is changing your lifestyle. Many of us have created bad habits over a the years and changing these requires a committed effort to consciously recognize and alter some of these patterns. It takes time to develop new habits, so a positive, forgiving attitude is essential. Change doesn't happen over night!

Once you are mentally prepared, 4 steps will assist in initiating a physical activity program:

Step 1: Assess your fitness level- You probably have some idea of how fit you are, but assessing and recording baseline fitness scores can give you benchmarks against which to measure your progress and to know what level to begin working at.

Step 2: Design a fitness plan. It's easy to say that you'll exercise every day. But you'll need a plan, a REALISTIC plan. Things to consider while doing this: your fitness goals, balance in routine, pace of progression, feasibility, variation in activity, recovery time, and WRITING IT ALL DOWN!

Step 3: Get started. You are now ready for action. Keep these tips in mind: Start slowly and build up gradually, break things up if you have to, listen to your body, and be flexible with your routine. Don't expect too much of yourself!

Step 4: Monitor your progress. As you work, you may notice that you need to increase the amount of time you exercise in order to continue improving.

If you lose motivation, set new goals or try a new activity. Exercising with a friend or taking a class at a fitness center may help, too.

Starting an exercise program is an important decision. But it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can establish a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime. Don't be too hard on yourself or expect too much-it will become discouraging. Just keep in mind, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"- Confucious


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