You’re never too old to make your health a priority. Many believe getting in shape takes long hours on the elliptical machine or dozens of laps in the pool. But did you know that a few simple changes can drastically improve your fitness?
Take these five easy steps to get on the road to a healthier you:
Set reasonable goals
If you struggle to walk a mile, don’t make running a marathon your initial fitness goal. The first step to success is identifying a reasonable and achievable goal. You’re more likely to continue on your fitness journey if you are able to achieve milestones along the way. Back to the mile example: if you do struggle to walk that mile, break it down into quarters. Master a quarter of a mile at a comfortable pace and then build on your success.
If you are new to exercise or haven’t exercised in a while, start slowly. You’ll quickly build strength and endurance. And remember, exercise doesn’t just mean running or lifting weights. There are lots of activities that can keep you active and help you increase your level of fitness.
It’s hard to stick to an activity that you don’t find enjoyable. So, if you dread walking on the treadmill, just don’t do it! Think about what makes you happy. Spending time at the beach? Playing with your grandchildren? There are ways to make these activities and others like them into exercise. If the beach is your thing, next time you’re there, think about doing some sitting yoga poses to increase flexibility or take a faster-than-normal walk by the water. Simple, enjoyable activities can do a lot to boost your fitness.
Pay attention to your plate
Someone once told me, “Abs are made in the kitchen.” I’ve never been able to forget that saying. Though I might not have six-pack abs, I’ve seen the difference focusing on portion size and a balanced diet can make. This doesn’t mean counting calories, either. Work on filling your plates with whole foods – the more fruits and veggies, the better. Processed foods tend to contain unnecessary ingredients and can derail your fitness journey before you even begin.
Add some weight
No, I don’t mean packing on more pounds! Grab a set of light weights (try 2 to 5 lbs. if you’re not used to using them) and start doing simple exercises like arm curls or side raises. Building muscle mass can improve overall bone density and can help offset osteoporosis.
Just like weightlifting can help with bone density, regular stretching can help you maintain and even build your flexibility as you get older. Our flexibility naturally decreases as we age and focusing on low-impact stretching, whether through yoga, Pilates or just individual stretches on your own, can help decrease your risk of injury and make you feel better overall.
And besides the physical benefits, stretching is linked with reducing stress that can cause both physical and mental stiffness. A few minutes of focused stretching can help soothe the mind and body. Small changes each day can add up. I challenge you this week to think about how you can add a bit more physical activity to your day.