How to Be Active

Three Parts:Taking the First StepsFinding the Right ActivitySticking With It

There are plenty of fun ways to get active. The difference between looking on exercise as a boring chore and having fun with your friends is choosing an active lifestyle that's right for you. By setting reasonable goals for yourself, taking those first critical steps, and finding something fun to do, you'll be up and active in no time. See Step 1 for more information.

Part 1
Taking the First Steps

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    Start walking. Becoming more active in your life doesn't mean you have to jump straight into training for half-marathons and maxing-out your bench press at the gym. You don't have to be intimidated by fancy exercise machines and weight-loss jargon, you don't have to get locked into expensive gym memberships and commitments. All you've got to do is start moving at your own pace, and learning to enjoy being active.
    • Start walking for 15 or 20 minutes a day, just a mile or two in a loop around your neighborhood. Walk at a comfortable pace, quick enough that you might build up a light sweat by the time you get back to your house. Make it comfortable. Regular walks will get you in shape for more strenuous exercise.
    • Consider working more walking into your daily work commute, or by walking to school with friends instead of taking a short drive. Vary the route you take to keep things interesting.
    • If you feel bored or uninspired by your walks, listen to music, audio books, or talk on the phone while you do it to maximize the time. Stay busy and stay active.
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    Stand up at work. Recent studies reveal that sitting for long periods of time can have a negative effect on overall health and lifespan. If you work somewhere you generally sit for many hours a day, consider working at a standing-desk, or just standing up and doing your work whenever possible. If it doesn't require that you sit, stand up and use your legs. You'll likely notice a difference in your energy levels and feel better at the end of the day, rather than more tired.
    • Treadmill desks are also increasingly common at workplaces and in the home. If you've got an old treadmill gathering dust in the basement, consider getting or setting up a make-shift desk on which to do your work while walking at a casual pace.
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    Do some light stretches and calisthenics. You don't even have to leave your house to start getting active. You don't even have to stop watching television! Find a light stretching routine that works for you, stretching out your muscles and getting them loose. Combined with walking, light stretches, sit-ups, and push-ups can be a great way of getting your body in shape for more strenuous activity, should you choose to pursue it.
    • Start with small sets, 20 sit-ups and 5 push-ups, say, or whatever seems doable for you. Do a set, then rest, stretching your muscles. When you feel ready, do another set of the same number, if you can.[1]
    • Other than loosening your muscles and warming them up for activity, stretching will also help you avoid the soreness that can turn beginners off of sudden exercise. If you go play basketball for the first time in several years, you're likely to be sore the next day, making it unlikely that you'll be enthusiastic to go again soon. Stretching will help alleviate that soreness.[2]
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    Start with 20 minutes a day of activity. Don't overdo it at first. A good way to ease into becoming more active is to try a new physical activity for at least, but no more than, 20 minutes a day in the beginning. Tiring out your muscles by doing too much won't do your body any favors, but you need to stay at it long enough to get your heart rate up to feel the benefits of your new active lifestyle.
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    Try to do something active every day for twenty minutes. Pick a time that will be convenient, or identify a time that you're usually inactive, or use for television-watching, which you could replace or supplement with some tiny activity.
    • One of the most common things that keeps people from getting active is that they don't have time. But, if you usually watch TV or mess round on the internet for a couple hours each night, taking 20 minutes from the routine will still leave you the relax time you need at the end of a long day, but gives you the opportunity to get a little more active at the same time.

Part 2
Finding the Right Activity

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    Join up and play an informal sport. If you're a gamer, consider dropping the Xbox controls and playing a physical game in the great outdoors. You don't have to be an expert to play informally at the park with friends, or joint a beginners league for a sport of your choice that'll get you moving and having fun in a light competitive atmosphere.
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    Get into the woods and enjoy nature on long hikes. If competitive sports aren't your thing and you prefer the pristine sounds of nature, take up hiking. Contemplate your life in solitude, and traverse as many miles as you can on foot. Seek out the great hikes in your area, checking out state and national parks for scenic vistas and beautiful trails. It's one of the cheapest and most rewarding ways of getting active and appreciating natural beauty.
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    Consider signing up for an exercise class. If you have trouble keeping to a routine yourself, or you just want to get active under the guidance of an instructor, sign up for a regular aerobic exercise class that'll get you moving regularly in a structured environment. Meeting up in a public place with strangers can be a good way of both motivating you to keep up and not caring how you look. It's just a bunch of strangers, after all. The differences are subtle, and not that complicated:
    • Aerobics is high-energy cardiovascular exercise
    • Zumba is a dance-aerobics that's fun and energetic, and done to music
    • Yoga is an ancient series of difficult poses and stretches that build strength and flexibility
    • Pilates is like a combination of core-strength training and aerobic yoga
    • If you're going to commit to a gym membership, you can also take advantage of the weight room and the pool, good ways to get active and use fancy equipment you don't have at your own house. It can be fun!
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    Build your running into jogging. If you enjoy regular walks, consider amping them up a bit into jogging and invest in a good pair of shoes. Start slow and build up gradually, finding good paths to run on and explore. The more you run, the more you might enjoy it, and start considering training for a 5K, or even a mini-marathon once you take the plunge.
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    Hop on a bicycle. Cities and towns have never been more bike-friendly. Most towns have lanes specifically designated for bicycles, and drivers are increasingly smart around people on bicycles. Visit a bike shop to get a bicycle right for the road, or consider getting a mountain bike and taking up off-road bicycling if you live somewhere with good trails.
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    Go out dancing. Who ever said exercise had to be a bummer? Head to the club on Friday night and burn calories dancing to your favorite tunes, or just crank up your own favorites and dance in your sweatpants. No one's watching.

Part 3
Sticking With It

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    Find someone to get active with. Even if you're just trying to get walking every day, having someone to walk with can make a huge difference in your commitment and your attitude. If you don't feel up to getting outside and moving around, it'll be harder to cancel if you've already made plans to meet and start walking. Find a regular time that works and make it an unspoken rule that you'll always meet at that place and time to get active together. Make it difficult to cancel.
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    Find a time to be active every day. Staying routine with your activity is the best way to make it easy on yourself and integrate it into your life. If you've got free time in the morning you might commit to exercise and activity, wake up earlier and get moving. If you've got lots of lazy time in the afternoon, get active then. Start with your 20 minute portion and expand it when you feel ready to, if you feel ready to.
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    Get over the three day hump. Sometimes, when you first start exercising, you'll be quite sore, even if you do the proper stretches and take it easy. The next day when you get up, getting active might be the last thing on your mind. Push through. Typically, muscle soreness will last for three days before your muscles get used to the new activity. That's not to say that you'll never be sore again, but ensure your commitment by pushing through those first three days.
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    Set up a reward system for activity. Treating yourself for successfully introducing activity into your life will help you stick to it. Give yourself something to look forward to. If you're going to be enjoying your new active lifestyle, why not get some new exercise clothes? Get those new hiking boots you've had your eye on after bagging a long trail, or check out a new fancy restaurant after exercising and eat something healthy. Make it easy on yourself.


  • If you change your habits too quickly, it might be too much for you, so make it a gradual process.

Things You'll Need

  • Exercise clothes and shoes.
  • Various toiletries like deodorant, shower gel, etc...
  • Pedometer (optional).

Article Info

Categories: Motivation to Exercise