10 Simple Steps to Get Fit

You can become more active — even if you’ve been a couch potato for much of the year. I’ve got some advice to help you get moving and stay moving:

1.  Don’t try to do too much too soon

A lot of people, who have been inactive for years, start out all gung ho, and they do too much exercise. Then they get injured and have to quit, rarely starting back up again. If you push yourself too far and too hard before your body is ready to handle the next workout, you can cause injury or illness or lapse into a drained and depleted condition. Too much too soon is the downfall of many good intentions.

2.  Start small — maybe with a five- or 10-minute walk

As it becomes easier, then add another five minutes and continue adding until you reach 45-60 minutes. You’ll be doing your body a world of good, too. In a study of middle-aged men and women, a 12-week walking program produced several key health benefits: trimmer waistline, healthier blood pressure, less fatigue and more energy, and a general sense of well-being. This study confirms what we’ve known for some time: Walking is good medicine.

3.  Try Wii Fit and other virtual home fitness programs

A 2010 survey conducted by the American Heart Association and Nintendo of America found that active-play video games could lead to people engaging in more real-world physical activity, including walking, tennis and jogging.

4.  Alternate ‘easy day’ and ‘hard day’ workouts

Once you get in an active groove, on a hard day, for example, work out for 60 minutes. On an easy day, shoot for 20 minutes. I do this myself, and I’ve found that it really sustains my motivation.

5.  Don’t fall back on the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse

If you can’t take 30 minutes to work out, then squeeze in 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes at lunch and 10 minutes after work. Shorter workouts are very effective at improving health.

6.  Choose activities for exercise that are fun for you

That’s what exercise should be about, but unfortunately, we have de-funned exercise in this country, making it a chore or an obligation. The more fun I’m having, the better results I get.

7.  Choose something you’re pretty good at, or at least can master

If you’re all left feet on the dance floor, then you probably won’t feel successful in an aerobic dance class. Find an activity you can do with confidence. Confidence creates the inner environment to succeed and stay with it.

8.  Mix it up by performing many activities

Since I, like most tennis players, have the attention span of the average hummingbird, I’ve always liked to have great variety in my training. Here are all the things that I might do on any given day — though not all at once: basketball, hockey, mountain biking, swimming, hiking, soccer, softball, running, kicking a hackey-sack, running track, skiing, snowboarding, Pilates, and lots of on-court drills to keep up my speed and agility. The body is lazy. Once it gets used to a pattern, it will work just enough, no more, no less, to stay there. To continue getting more fit and in shape, don’t let your body become complacent. Keep it working and guessing.

9.  Recruit a workout buddy

Surrounding myself with family, friends, teammates, coaches, trainers and other advisers has helped me become a tennis champion. If you do not have an obvious choice for a workout partner, keep looking. It could be a neighbor, coworker, relative or that person sitting next to you in that new class you’re taking.

10.  Seek expert advice, especially when beginning an exercise program

Written by Martina Navratilova @Martina

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