Increasing physical activity is a popular New Year’s resolution but you don’t have to wait until January to begin. Take your first steps today to better health. Below are tips to get you started:

Couple stretching in the park

  • Visit your doctor. Talk with your health care professional before starting any exercise program. This is important if you have a sedentary lifestyle, any chronic illness or take medication. Ask your doctor what exercises are best for your physical condition.
  • Make a plan. Studies have shown that having a specific plan increases your chance of success. Choose an activity that you enjoy. If it is walking, decide how many minutes you will walk a day and how many days a week. Start slowly and increase by small increments each week.
  • Get support to keep you motivated. A friend could exercise with you or they might be a good sounding board for those days you find it hard to get moving. Consider professional support in the form of a personal trainer or a gym membership.
  • Recognize barriers to success. Make a plan to keep on track. When weather affects your outdoor exercise schedule, substitute an indoor exercise routine. Have you lost interest in your weekly routine? Take time to explore new activities. Join a dance class, a walking club or learn yoga.
  • Manage your time. To find time to exercise, make a list of your daily activities. Rate each activity as important, somewhat important, neutral, and not important. Are there any not important activities that you could replace with your new important activity, exercise?
  • Reward yourself. Make a list of your short-term and long-term goals. What will be your reward for each achievement? A reward can be as simple as a music download or a bubble bath. Looking forward to a treat can help keep you motivated.

Keep in mind that small steady steps create lasting change and doing something is better than doing nothing. A healthy lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint.