Getting fit and staying fit is important at all stages of life. Exercise may help make your heart strong, improve your mood and help keep your weight in a healthy range. But prioritizing regular exercise can be easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you start and stick with an exercise plan that works for you.
Physical benefits of regular exercise
While many people might exercise to lose weight, the physical benefits may go beyond that. Physical activity may help to:1
- Control or reduce cholesterol and blood pressure
- Increase flexibility
- Lower the risk of diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease
- Prevent bone loss
- Build muscle tone and strength
- Increase energy levels
Starting an exercise plan
Making a change to your routine can be more manageable when you set achievable goals that fit your lifestyle. Consider these ideas:
- Start small. It’s OK if you may not have time for a 30-minute workout. Try starting with 5 minutes of exercise a day and work up to 10 or 15 minutes over time.
- Find a buddy. Exercising with a friend, coworker or neighbor can help you feel supported and may help you both stick to your goals.
- Sign up for a rewards program. Many health insurance providers offer programs that reward you for meeting health and activity goals. This may help you stay motivated. Rewards may include things like gift cards or money toward your health savings account.
If you’re a UnitedHealthcare member, explore our wellness and rewards programs.
What are some exercise tips to focus on?
When it comes to exercise, slow and steady wins the race according to the CDC. People who lose 1 to 2 pounds per week have better odds of keeping the weight off long-term.2 Here are a few exercise tips to keep in mind:
- When you lift weights, your muscles burn calories at rest more than other tissues, speeding up your resting metabolism
- A workout that really gets your heart pumping — jogging, biking, speed walking or aerobic exercise — may burn the most calories per session
- Strength training may be more likely to help you burn more calories as the day goes on
And remember, it’s not about how fast you lose weight. It’s how consistent you are with your routine, and how much you modify your diet.
Healthy habits, like regular exercise, may have many benefits
What's your everyday routine? Are there ways to add new healthy habits into your life? When you do, you may experience a variety of benefits. For example, physical exercise may help:
- Improve your relationships
- Lower your health care costs
- Supercharge your creativity3
- Bring feelings of joy to your life — exercise releases endorphins, which can make you feel happy
Easy ways to help sneak exercise into your schedule
No matter how jam-packed your schedule may be, you can still "sneak" exercise into your day. Some simple ideas might be:
- Do squats while you brush your teeth or blow dry your hair
- Park a little farther away, whether driving to the office, grocery store or an appointment
- Consider how much you stand during the day
- Schedule walk breaks into your day
- Play with the kids. Chase around the yard, play sports or active games with them.
There's lots more you can do to keep moving throughout the day — for you and your family too.
Positive steps to keep going with exercise
How can you keep up your exercise routine? Just do your best and consider ways to focus on your progress every day by taking steps like like:
- Scheduling workout time on your calendar and trying your best to stick to it, but try not to be so rigid that you’re discouraged if life may get in the way (it might).
- Not dwelling on the workout itself, and instead thinking about putting on your shoes and getting to your destination, wherever that may be. Sometimes just getting on your gear may be the biggest hurdle.
- Not comparing yourself to others. Many people’s fitness journey looks different.
Try to visualize your success. Remember why you started. Every step you take — even little ones — are steps in a positive direction.