THE GYM. Did the word make you shudder? In all reality, the gym can be a scary and intimidating place. Gym membership advertisements sell us these glamorous images of thin, fit people working out with smiles on their faces, and not a single bead of sweat on their brows. Clearly working out is easy and fun, right? Well… not necessarily…
For many average Americans, losing weight is something that just does not seem that simple. And while it’s obvious to most that exercise is a vital component of losing weight, where and how to start can be questions that many overweight and obese people just aren’t sure how to answer.
In a study by the Center for Disease Control in 2012, more than two thirds (69 percent) of adults are overweight or obese and more than one third (35 percent) are obese. And while the American Heart Association advises at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for most or all days of the week, 80 percent of American adults do not get the weekly recommended amounts of physical activity. Moreover, a study last year linked physical inactivity to more than 5 million deaths worldwide per year, more than those caused by smoking.
Starting an exercise program or a gym membership can be tough, especially when considering some of the real (or perceived) barriers to physical activity that many people face. In a survey conducted by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, respondents reported barriers to exercising such as being too fat,being too shy or embarrassed to exercise; being too lazy or not motivated; having an injury or disability (males only); and being not the sporty type (females only). And when we look at those upbeat gym commercials, it feels easy to say, “I can’t do that.”
But actually… YOU CAN. And there is ONE important step that can get you on the path to a healthier you!
THE FIRST STEP
Exercising requires hard work and commitment, and it can even be dangerous for those who are severely overweight or obese and more susceptible to suffering injuries, as activities they participate in have the potential to place a significant amount of stress on their ankles, knees, hips and lower back. But with the will to make a change, you can choose wellness and life, and it can be as easy as that first step. And your first step does NOT need to be in a gym.
If you are committed to making a healthy change in your life and losing some weight, start by focusing on low impact activities. Thirty minutes a day is all you need, and you can even split up that 30 minutes into several smaller sessions, such as 10 minutes of brisk activity in the morning, during lunch, and after work.
Try to make your first step a nice walk. Throw on your headphones and take a walk around your neighborhood. Or for added cardio and strength, walk up and down a flight of stairs for ten minutes, and you’ll be guaranteed to feel the burn. Don’t forget to stretch! Warming up your muscles, especially when you are a beginner to exercising, can help you avoid injury.
Most importantly—DON’T GIVE UP. Taking that first step can be hard. Taking the next step and then the next can seem even harder. But the more steps you take, the easier it will become. And before you know it, a new you will be staring back at you in the mirror, and you’ll wonder why you hadn’t started sooner.
For some inspiration in getting your weight loss journey started, check out these video testimonials from people like Jim Carpenter, who lost more than 290 pounds and just participated in his first 5k walk, or Bill DiNicola, who was excited to ride a roller coaster for the first time in 15 years after losing an astonishing 226 pounds.
If you are really concerned about your weight and want to also get your diet on track, consider seeing a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist who can provide even more comprehensive, personal, and specialized advice on how to lose weight safely