The air is warmer, days are longer and more people are starting to tie the laces on their running shoes. As we move deeper into spring, some of us will start to trade our oversized coats for light jackets while others will start foraging through the internet to find the motivation to get active. If you're the latter, you may need a little guidance to turn the walk from your couch to your mailbox into a little more time moving around.
1. Change Your Daily Routine
One of the easiest ways to make a change in your fitness is by tweaking the things you do on a regular basis into something more physically challenging. If you live near your school or office, trade the car for a bike, bus, train or longer walk. If you have to drive, try parking a little further each day to get your heart rate going. Moving about 5,000 steps a day is already a victory in itself and you can get closer to the number by getting your feet moving in new ways.
For instant weights, you can ditch a shopping cart for baskets while heading to do your groceries. Sure, it may only add about 2 to 3 pounds, but that's working your muscles more than you may have on a regular day. Another simple routine switch is opting for stairs instead of the elevator. Bonus: It gets easier on the way down so though you may struggle at 8 a.m. on a Monday, your feet will thank you at the end of the day.
2. Use the Buddy System
There's nothing like a good exercise pal to keep you responsible to sticking to a workout schedule. They provide a powerful combination of support, accountability and motivation. You'll find yourself working harder and practicing perfect attendance when you've got someone looking over your shoulder. You can also take it an extra step and build in competition among each other to fulfill your goals.
Social support is also one of the most powerful factors in getting the sedentary to move. Whether it's the fear of missing out by skipping a workout, or looking to impress your friend with your newly found stamina, a fitness buddy is a perfect start to lifting yourself - and your spirits - this spring.
3. Join an Exercise Program
For many, the challenge of getting fit is not in the motivation itself, but the lack of knowledge on what you're even supposed to be doing. Group fitness classes are a cost-effective way to get the benefits of both the buddy system and a personal trainer. Not only can they be incredibly fun, you're still holding on to accountability of attending a workout while having a coach walk you through the basics.
The caveat here, if you're like me, is you may hop off the workout train if you get too bored or used to a class. I started using ClassPass as my gateway to personal fitness because it let me do a little bit of this and that without the commitment to one routine or one studio. By the time you find the program that's right for you, you'll have developed a healthy habit that will last you through the year.
4. Support a Charity or Wellness Campaign
If the motivation you need is knowing that you're making a difference in someone else's life, there are easy ways to support a cause by getting active. There are countless apps that encourage users to log activity in exchange for a donation from a sponsor. Kick it up a notch by taking this time to start training for a charity run that supports what you're passionate about.
We also live in a connected age where, if we're being honest, a lot of people find incentives in doing things to humbly brag about it via social media. Telecommunications giant, AT&T, is putting resources into pushing its community to take an extra step by incorporating more wearables and device accessories into their routine through its #GetActive campaign.
Mental health benefits of exercise can happen by simply getting out of the house. The benefits multiply if you run, walk, bike, swim or lift weights. Taking it a step further starts to pull in the physical benefits including lowering risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and other chronic illnesses.
April is the proverbial starting line to personal goal beating for wellness enthusiasts. Whether training for a marathon, a 5K or looking to catch spring fever, this could be the month to get started.