Taking the First Step

Starting to exercise can be tough, and a bit scary but it may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Any type of physical activity can reduce your risk for chronic disease, help you lose weight, improve balance, coordination, sleep habits and self esteem. In fact, some studies show that losing as little as 5 to 10% of your starting weight can lower your blood pressure and other stroke factors!

No matter your age or fitness level, beginning to exercise can provide a world of difference for your body and health. Let’s walk through four basic types of exercise to help you keep your weight under control, protect your joints and strengthen your bones.

Walking
Walking can help you maintain a healthy weight, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check and improve your mood. Work your way up to 30 minutes of walking a day. Start with a few smaller walks for about 5-10 minutes. Keep in mind that the faster, farther, and more frequently you walk during the week the greater benefits.

Swimming

Swimming is great if you are suffering from arthritis or recovering from an injury to your knee, ankle or back. It provides almost no impact on your joints and can help improve flexibility and strength. It’s two workouts (cardiovascular and resistance) in one.

Yoga
A number of studies have shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety. When beginning yoga you may want to take a class or two to learn proper form and technique. You can find classes at your local YMCA or community center.

Resistance Training
Try weight-bearing exercises such as lifting free weights or using your own body weight (push-ups, pull-ups) and aim for 10-15 minutes a week to begin. Afraid of getting the bulky look from weight training? Try lighter weights with more reps. You should still feel the burn from lifting the weight but it should take about 12-15 repetitions to reach.

Don’t have a gym, workout facility, or money for a pass? Get outside and enjoy the fresh air and natural surroundings. Studies have shown that people have lower levels of stress after getting active outside. No matter where or how you choose to get moving, most importantly have fun. The more you enjoy the activity the more likely you will stick with it and make time to be active!