Exercise is a key part of losing weight, but getting moving can be difficult for people who are out of shape. Once people have become motivated to lose weight it can be hard to curb that enthusiasm, but sometimes it’s better to put off the gym or the jog until the old joints have been warmed up a bit. Fortunately there are number of low-impact exercises and lifestyle changes that can help get a body ready to really move again.
Walking — An Easy Way to Start
Walking doesn’t burn as many calories as jogging or running, but it’s a healthier alternative to driving short distances, and it’s far better for you than sitting around. It can also be a good intermediary step between inactivity and higher intensity forms of exercise.
Walking is also very variable in terms of both length and intensity, which makes it good for people who are just getting into exercise and may not be sure what they can take yet. Whether around the block or neighborhood, or on the treadmill, consider starting out slowly and gradually increasing speed.
It can be tempting to push to the limit, but pacing is important, especially for those not using a treadmill who have a return journey to think about. Finding one’s proper pace and limits can take a while, so try not to feel down about sessions that could have been harder or longer. Instead, look optimistically at the fact that it means that the next session can be a little more intense. Increasing the amount of time walking, or alternating between walking and jogging and increasing the jogging time, from day to day can be a good way to gradually move into this popular and free form of exercise.
Yoga — Exercises for Flexibility and Toning
While it may seem a little ambitious, or a little awkward, yoga is a great way to increase flexibility, as well as to tone muscles. A lot of yoga poses will be too advanced for people with weight issues, but many beginners’ poses shouldn’t be a problem. This can be a great way to prepare the body for other more conventional exercises, but some yoga experts maintain that the art of yoga is very underrated in terms of its potential for calorie burning.
While membership in a yoga class or tutelage by an expert can be fairly expensive, there is a wealth of helpful and free information online, including helpful videos that guide you through exercises, and give advice for more complicated poses and transitions. These online resources mean that this form of exercise can be done in the privacy of one’s home, requiring little space, and virtually no equipment. It is also safe to learn yoga at home, provided that one recognizes their limits.
In addition to the physical benefits of yoga, many practitioners believe in a philosophy of mindfulness, self-care, and focusing on building one’s strength rather than being limited by one’s weakness. All of these are helpful philosophies to help take one down the road to wellness.
Look to local Fitness Centers for Variety
It’s a little pricier and certainly less private, but many areas have gyms or health centers that offer classes and courses in health and wellness. Many areas that don’t have a publicly run gym or fitness center may still offer these services through local colleges or community organizations.
These courses offered by gyms or colleges are a great way to gain access to expertise or equipment that might otherwise be difficult to come by, and while these courses aren’t exactly private, they often take place during times when the area has been reserved. This means that they should be fairly judgement free zones, where the classmates are all coming from similar backgrounds and are at similar skill-levels, and the instructors are all experienced and dedicated to helping those who have signed up. This kind of environment can be a great change of pace, offering a larger community than a treadmill in one’s home, as well as a more positive community than standard gym settings where many people feel uncomfortable working on their weight.
Some vague courses – or anything with “for beginners” in the title — may be a good way to find out what is right for you, while more focused classes will often offer the kind of experience that can’t well be replicated from home. Whether it’s spinning, kick-boxing, or water-aerobics, some of these classes might be worth a try, and many will offer a free or reduced-price trial period.
Exercise Doesn’t Have to Feel Like Exercise
A lot can be said for thinking outside of the box when it comes to finding ways to increase activity. A lot of people think that exercise needs to be going to the gym or going for a run, but anything that gets a person moving does the body good, especially if that body isn’t quite ready for the gym yet.
Many foundations and medical centers interested in promoting healthy lifestyles often include gardening on their lists of healthy exercises. While it’s not exactly going to melt away the pounds or chisel many muscles, it’s a good way to get moving, increasing range of motion and endurance. While there aren’t any physical health differences from planting flowers or vegetables, growing one’s own food can be a good way to get exercise while making producing healthy crops.
A similar example of a hobby that gets one moving without being too demanding of muscles and joints is dancing. Like Yoga, discussed above, this activity increases flexibility, endurance, and muscle tone. Also, like walking, dancing has a sort of adaptive difficulty: If the box step starts getting boring, learn a waltz. Who knows, maybe kick it up to a tango. That’s a dance that could burn some calories.
There are a lot of solid steps that can come between the sedentary lifestyle that too many of us lead and the active lifestyle that so many of us want to lead for our health and better enjoyment of life. Furthermore, not all of the steps need to be as boring and disciplined as it often may seem. While many of the activities listed above are presented as stepping stones toward something else, many of them could well being enjoyable life-long activities that never stop contributing to one’s health and well-being.