4 steps to getting and staying physically active

you don't have to be great to start,but you do have to start to be great.By: Alyson Kolesar, Warren Ohio Center

The motivation to exercise often is a big problem for people who are thinking of starting physical therapy or staying active after treatment is completed.

We can find inspiration in quotes, such as “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Then again, it has been said that “Well done is better than well said.”

So how can we turn words into actions when it comes to physical activity?

Step 1: Set goals for yourself

Before starting any exercise program, you should set short- and long-term goals for what you want to accomplish. These can be specific to function, such as being able to go up and down a flight of stairs or walking around a park for a period of time.

If you are involved in a physical therapy program, make sure you communicate with your therapist so that he or she can tailor a program to your needs and goals. A good short-term goal might be to walk for 15 minutes per day, five days a week; a good long-term goal might be to participate in a 5K walk. Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable because it is easy to get frustrated if they are too ambitious.

Step 2: Make exercise fun and grab a friend

Participate in physical activity that is enjoyable to you and then mix it up to keep it interesting. Go on a bike ride with friends, try out a kickboxing class, or join a softball league. If you don’t like something, try something else. Ask a friend, family member or neighbor to join your activities. You can motivate each other to continue and pursue your fitness goals.

Step 3: Make physical activity a daily routine

Start making small changes throughout your day to incorporate more activity. This can be choosing to take the stairs instead of an elevator or parking farther away at the grocery store. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can negatively affect your health, so taking short breaks to get up and move, even to the water fountain, can be beneficial.

Step 4: Reward yourself

Rewards can be as simple as drinking a delicious smoothie or watching an episode of your favorite show after a tough session. If you achieve a larger goal, reward yourself with something like a new pair of workout shoes. As you do more activity, you will notice more internal rewards such as the rush of endorphins after a good workout. Looking forward to these rewards while still focusing on your overall goals will keep you on track to success.

Now that you have regained the motivation to exercise, get out there and start moving.

If you feel your motivation slip, review this list and remember, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.”


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