By Gabriella Pozell, Contributing Writer
I’ll admit it. I used to live a pretty sedentary lifestyle. Actually, that’s probably too generous. “Couch potato” would have probably been a more accurate term to describe me. Unfortunately, my couch potato tendencies used to worsen during the summertime.
During my summer vacations, I used to love relaxing and pushing the limits of my laziness by binge-watching my favorite TV shows or just sitting for hours at a time, getting lost in good books.
This summer, however, I have been trying to reverse that trend by becoming more active. Since my sister’s friend is battling leukemia, a group of my sister’s friends and I decided to make it a goal to run the Debbie Green Memorial 5K that raises awareness for leukemia and lymphoma.
Since just the idea of running a race was already exhausting, I decided that I needed to make some lifestyle changes to become more active and prepare for the race.
Here are some tips that I learned from my experiences that can help you become more active this summer, too.
1. Know your motivation.
Understanding the reasons why you want to become more active makes all of your effort worth it. So, whether it is health benefits, wanting to feel better, or preparing to run a race to support a cause, having that motivation in mind can help you stick with your lifestyle changes.
2. Set goals.
It is important for your goals to be both reasonable and specific. Some goals could be to exercise for 150 minutes a week, as recommended by the American Heart Association, to try to take up a new form of physical activity, or to increase the amount of steps you take in a day. Having goals in mind can keep you focused.
3. Build up to it.
It is important not to burn yourself out too fast. Start out with moderate or easier levels of physical activity, and then work yourself up to reaching your goal.
4. Make a schedule.
One of my common excuses for why I didn’t exercise was because I didn’t have any time. To be successfully become more active, it is necessary to make time. You can do so by creating a realistic schedule of when you plan on working out and what type of activity you plan on doing.
5. Try a variety of physical activities.
Don’t get bored by just doing one type exercise. When making your schedule, try incorporating different activities on different days.
6. Getting fit isn’t just about physical endurance.
It takes mental and emotional endurance as well. Making lifestyle changes requires dedication, so having the right mindset can give you the willpower to stick with it.
7. Have balanced expectations.
After my first real workout, I was out of breath exhausted, and I just wanted to give up. However, it is important to keep in mind that it is not realistic to think that you become more fit overnight. Be patient with yourself.
8. Have an exercise buddy.
Positive peer pressure is a great way to keep yourself motivated, and it makes whatever physical activity you are doing more enjoyable.
9. Make use of the summer weather.
The summer is a great time to get outdoors and be active. Try taking up different sports like swimming, tennis, golf, or running.
10. Have fun.
Physical activity is a great way to relieve stress, and it can be enjoyable, only if let yourself have fun while doing it.
By keeping these tips in mind, you could be on your way to becoming more active this summer. For more information, check out the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans on the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion website.