So you want to get active, but you’re not sure where to start. Or maybe you were an athlete when you were younger but you fell out of the habit and aren’t sure how to get back into the groove. Perhaps you are already active but you’d like to find a new sport or add some variety to your routine.
Congratulations, you’re well on your way! You’ve already decided you’re ready to get out there and try something new. Now you just have to figure out how you want to do it. You probably already have some ideas, but take a look at the tips below to help you on your way.
- Current Health Status – Before adding more activity to your life, it’s important to evaluate the current state of your health. If you have a severe and/or chronic illness, injury, or other health concern (including pregnancy) it’s a good idea to consult with your physician to make sure adding certain physical activities are safe. Getting active is almost always a good idea, but sports and strenuous exercise can be dangerous. It’s best to be careful where your health is concerned, and if you have any worries or questions about whether or not you should take up a new active hobby, contacting a trained medical professional is your best bet to make sure you stay safe and healthy.
- Start Slow – If you’re new to physical activity it’s better to ease into things slowly. Don’t try to do too much at once; if you overdo it you will be more likely to burn yourself out or sustain an injury, which can set you back quickly. Once you get used to moving more you’ll get a better idea of what works for you physically and mentally. Everyone is different, so don’t try to compare yourself to others or attempt to keep up with people who have been active for a longer period of time. Listen to your body and make sure to give yourself a break if you need one. Remember that improvement happens over time; you won’t be perfect at anything right off the bat, and that’s okay! Enjoy the journey, celebrate your progress, and remember that just getting up and being active is a win for your mental and physical well being.
- Budget – When choosing activities in which you’d like to participate, it’s good to have your budget in mind. With a lot of sports you can spend as much or as little as you’d like, but some activities require more money upfront than others. If you’re looking to keep the expenses on the low end, avoid sports/positions that require a lot of equipment or a large investment for participation. When starting out, looking for options where you can acquire used equipment such as Craigslist or local used sporting good stores can make it easier to try something out without putting yourself in too much debt. You may even be able to borrow or rent some items when you’re trying things out. Shop around if you’re looking to join a gym or fitness group to see if you can find something that fits comfortably within your budget.
- Find Something You Love – The best way to keep up with a new exercise routine is to find an activity you enjoy. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should be doing; just because something works for them doesn’t mean it will work for you. If you find yourself dreading your workout or finding excuses to skip it, you’re probably doing something you don’t really like. Walking your dog may not burn as many calories as going for a run, but any activity is better than none; if you enjoy the dog-walking enough to do it everyday, embrace it! Try new, different things until something clicks for you. There are dozens of ways to get out and be active, and anything you find fulfilling and fun will make you happier, keep you healthier, and improve your mood.
- Ask Your Friends – If you’re having a hard time finding an activity to try, poll your friends to see what they enjoy doing. If something sounds interesting see if you can join them for their next workout, or have them introduce you to their coach/team/trainer to get an idea if you might like doing it yourself. Don’t be discouraged if you try something and hate it; trial and error is a great way to find your niche. And if you stumble upon something you love in the process you might even get a great workout buddy at the same time.
- Community – Being healthy and getting active has gotten more and more popular over the years, so many communities have started programs to get people moving. Visit your local community center or YMCA to see what sorts of activities they offer, or if they have any discount programs to help save you money such as punch cards or drop-in rates. The city you live in may even have a catalog you can browse to find team sports, training programs, or classes you can attend to learn a new sport or locate a group/team you can join.
Those are only a few ideas, but hopefully they’re a good place to set you on your path to becoming more active. Good luck, be safe, and, most importantly, have fun!