Ah, summertime. As kids, many of us spent those warm days outside from morning until night. We were physically active for hours on end — riding bikes, jumping rope, playing hopscotch, kickball and pick-up basketball — with no idea that our activities were actually exercise.
Wouldn’t it be nice if being active could be as effortless as in those bygone days? It can! Try creating your own grown-up version of a kid’s summer by enjoying outdoor activities that also provide a fitness benefit, like hiking, swimming, cycling or kayaking.
Going for long(er) walks. Get an early morning start or wait for evening’s cooler temperatures, and find a buddy to walk with. Then up your game gradually by adding five or 10 minutes each time you walk.
Taking a hike. There are hiking trails everywhere — around lakes, through the woods, in the mountains and even in the city. Mountain hiking bonus: Temperatures are generally cooler at higher altitudes, so there’s less chance of summertime overheating. Visit tnstateparks.com for information on activities offered by Tennessee’s beautiful state parks.
Cycling through. You’re never too old to bike, and you don’t even have to own one to ride. Many parks provide rentals; for example, Shelby Bottoms Nature Center and Greenway in East Nashville offers a B-Cycle station, where you can purchase a 24-hour bike rental pass for just $5 (annual memberships are available for $60). For more information about Nashville’s many greenways and bicycle rentals, visit nashville.bcycle.com.
Overcome common barriers
Think there are obstacles in your path that prevent you from being physically active? Keep reading to learn about steps you can take to overcome some common barriers.
“I’m not motivated.”
No matter how much fun an activity is, we can all use a little nudge at times to stay motivated to move. Here are a few tips that can help:
Set goal. It’s easier to stick to a fitness plan that has a specific, measurable goal; for example, try saying, “I want to lose five pounds in a month,” instead of the more general, “I want to lose weight.” It’s also important to make sure the goals you set are realistic and achievable. Goals that are too lofty can cause you to lose motivation.
Be accountable. If no one knows you’re trying to lose those five pounds, then no explanations are required if you don’t. By telling your friends and family about your fitness goals, they can support you if the going gets tough — and congratulate you on your successes.
Practice positive self-talk. Approach your fitness goals like the “little engine that could.” A can-do attitude can help you overcome many obstacles you might encounter. And be your own cheerleader by practicing positive, constructive self-talk. Researchers have found that people with positive inner voices are less likely to be depressed and are happier in general.
Reward yourself. When you achieve those goals, reward yourself. For example, if you’ve lost five pounds of a 10-pound weight-loss goal, indulge in a small treat. Feelings of deprivation can sabotage healthy eating, so make sure you include rewards and a few cheat days/meals in your get-healthy plan.
“I have a physical limitation, so I can’t exercise.”
If you deal with a health condition like arthritis, for example, and have stiff, painful joints, the thought of moving your body may seem overwhelming. But the reality is that exercise is essential for people with arthritis. Instead of aggravating your joint pain, physical activity can actually strengthen the muscles and tissue that support your bones. If you don’t exercise, those supporting muscles weaken, which can create more stress on your joints.
Need some advice about the best exercises for achy joints or ways to overcome other physical challenges? Schedule an appointment with family nurse practitioner David Flecksteiner, who has an extensive background in orthopedics and sports medicine.
“I don’t know how to get started.”
Have you tried to lose weight multiple times, only to gain it back — plus some? Could you use some advice and support about the best way to get on the road to better health? We can help!
Ready to kick off a happier, healthier you? To map out an action plan, schedule an appointment with ParTNers Health Center health coaches Melanie Ward or Ellen Ross.
For more information about these and other ParTNers Health Center services, visit partnershealthcenter.com or call 615-741-1709.
Sources: Psychology Today; Mayo Clinic