It may help to know that the first few hundred extra calories you burn will give you the greatest health benefit. So take it day by day, focus on living a more active life overall, and the rest will fall into place.
Three Tips to Get Started:
- Make it manageable. Set your goals as small and as specific as you need in order to get motivated. Instead of saying to yourself, "I'm going to get in shape," set a more realistic short-term goal with a very specific objective. For example, your first goal might be to walk for five minutes today and tomorrow. Or you might set a goal of walking up and down the stairs in your house two additional times every day this week. Do whatever you need to do to make the concept of being active seem manageable to you on a moment-by-moment basis.
- Ease into it. Start with a scaled-down version of whatever plan you've created for becoming more active. If walking is your activity of choice, begin with five-minute walks and eventually build up to 10-, 20-, or 30-minute walks. Or start exercising just two days per week, then work your way up to five days per week over a period of months. Start small, and as soon as you feel you can do more, commit to the extra effort. But don't bother thinking about the next step until you feel great about what you are currently doing.
- Work with what you've got. If you're very overweight or have aching joints, arthritis, or a physical limitation, you'll do best to focus on activities that make exercise easier in the beginning. Swimming or other water-based activities are good options. They provide an excellent resistance and cardiovascular workout, and the water will support most of your weight, so you may be able to do stretches and movements that might be too difficult on dry land. Enlist the help of your healthcare provider or physical therapist in designing a workout plan that's appropriate for you.