Getting Active: What type of body movement do you enjoy?
The first step in becoming more active is the hardest. It becomes a little easier when you choose to do an exercise that you enjoy and look forward to doing. As you begin to add activity to your day or week, you will see that the key to becoming active is learning to identify opportunities to move your body (like taking a quick walk or scheduling stretch breaks in between your day, etc.) and focusing on little steps. Progress over perfection!
The Surgeon General recommends doing moderate-intensity activities for 30 minutes on most days per week. The 30 minutes does not have to occur all at once. Some examples of increasing everyday activity are using the stairs instead of the elevator (if you can do so without injury), walking part of the way to work, or parking your car in the farthest space available and walking the rest of the way to your office. Every 5 to 10-minute dose of activity can help increase energy and reduce stress levels.
Sticking With It: Progress Over Perfection!
To avoid burnout or injury, start your exercise program slowly. Try to build these new activities, such as walking, into your work and home life. By developing short-term goals (i.e. "I will walk for 20 minutes after lunch 2 times this week"), you are more likely to accomplish them. Add your walks for the week to your calendar, so that you remember.
Use the Exercise Planner handout to keep track of your activities during the week or month. It also helps you to see your progress as you increase your activity levels, as well as helps you plan exercise into your schedule each week. Don't be too hard on yourself if you skip a day or a week, it's all about progress, not perfection!
More Exercise Tips
- Register for a walking event or short race (5k) 3-4 months from now to give you a goal to work towards and time to train for it.
- Change up your walking program by diversifying the path, pace, distance, or difficulty of your regular walks.
- Try joining a walking, running, or biking group, etc. Or invite your friends to do activities together like hiking or attending a dance class.
- Try new activities as part of your exercise program, such as biking, swimming, tennis, hiking, rock climbing, dance lessons, etc. Mix it up, and find new ways to move your body and have fun!
- Add a strength training/weight training component 2-3 times per week to increase muscle strength and to help raise your heart rate.
- Don't forget to stretch. Stretching after exercising helps to improve flexibility and prevent injuries.
- Be kind to yourself and check in with how you feel. The point of exercising is to consistently move and feel good!
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But sometimes the drive to exercise can have negative health impacts. Disordered exercise has many names but some warning signs to look out for include 1) extreme or harmful exercise behaviors, 2) obsessive focus on food, exercise, or body weight, shape, or size, 3) social isolation or sudden change in attitude or performance or 4) fatigue, fainting/dizziness.
For students who are struggling with disordered eating or exercise, the University Health Services Eating Disorders Team is a good place to start. To schedule an appointment, students should call the UHS clinic desk at (510) 643-7110. For questions or consultation, please call Social Services at (510) 642-6074.