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Health and Fitness

From Couch Potato to Fitness Freak

The beginning of a new year is a great time for life-changing decisions. A lot of people think it feels great to leave bad habits behind in the old year, and embrace the chance to start fresh. Being a couch potato might feel good at the moment, but in the long run it’s a terrible idea. Once weight gain and health problems start piling up, it becomes evident that it’s time for a lifestyle change. But how do you do it? How do you pull off this lifestyle U-turn? Simple! Here are a few tips on how to become fit and healthy!

Start Small

The key thing is that you look realistically at what you can actually do. Setting unrealistic, too ambitious goals is setting yourself up for failure. Even if you can manage to pull off the routine once, that doesn’t mean you will have the stamina and willpower to do it regularly. Your workout should be slightly challenging, but doable. The best way to start is some light cardio like walking, dancing or swimming. Get out of the house, and walk. You might be surprised at how good it feels to be out in the fresh air. Start with 15 or 30 minutes – however long you feel comfortable with. Proper cardio is an activity which raises your pulse, but you should still be able to talk, for instance. If you are exerting yourself more than that, it’s too much. The NHS recommends 30 minutes of cardio 5 times a week.

Try to Enjoy It

While many of us see exercise as something necessary but unpleasant, that attitude eventually leads to giving up. Instead, try to do what it takes to make physical activity a more enjoyable experience. Make a fun playlist with your favorite songs, subscribe to some absorbing podcasts, or get an audiobook subscription. Some people feel more motivated when they invest in proper, comfortable gym wear. Or maybe you can get a friend to do your routine with you. Some get a huge kick out of tracking their progress – which you can do with a fitness diary, or an app that does the same thing. If you are walking, change your route, or drive out someplace scenic and beautiful and walk there. You could also create a reward system (as long as you don’t reward yourself with food or skipping exercise). Think about what would be a good motivator for you, personally, to persevere with your fitness program.

Increase Your Efforts Gradually

Even if your simple routine took a lot of effort at first, you will soon notice that it doesn’t seem as hard anymore. That means it’s time to up your game! There are many ways you can do this, and it’s up to you to choose which one you prefer. One way is to add 5 minutes to your daily routine every week. So, for instance, if you started out with 20 minutes a day the first week, next week you can do 25 minutes a day. Another way is to increase the amount of time more, but only once a week. That means keeping 20 minutes a day every day, but upping it to 35 on one particular day. Once you feel more advanced, you can maybe exchange walking for another, slightly harder form of cardio. You would be surprised just how much these gradual increments amount to in the long run!

The hardest part of any fitness routine is getting started. It takes a lot of willpower to begin, and keep going. However, once you do, you will be amazed how much better you will feel.

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