Did you know that May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month? Now that we’re halfway through 2022, some people may not have stuck with their initial new year’s resolutions and stopped making the effort to exercise regularly. Alternatively, others may have decided that with the weather warming and summer around the corner, now is the time to step up their fitness routine.
Regardless of where you are personally when it comes to physical activity, there is no denying the benefits it can bring to your overall well-being. Even people with no explicit fitness goals can maintain overall health by staying active in some way — and there are plenty of ways to go about it.
Oftentimes, there is a misconception that leading an active lifestyle requires hours in the gym, or doing exercises that you don’t enjoy. In reality, prioritizing your health and wellness doesn’t require an overbearing time commitment, and there are dozens of alternatives to traditional workouts that can leave you feeling both physically and mentally fulfilled.
If you’ve been looking for inspiration to get moving each day, we’ve got you covered.
Understanding the 30 Minute Recommendation
You may have heard the number 30 being thrown around as a “magic number” when it comes to daily physical activity. This is certainly a good baseline for those just starting out, but there is a bit more nuance when it comes to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The general rule of thumb is for adults to complete 150 minutes of movement a week, which breaks down to 30 minutes a day for five days a week. This number is representative of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as a brisk walk. This level of intensity is ideal for a casual workout, or for people just getting back into fitness.
Others may find that an elevated pace is desired, something closer to a vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. Examples of this include jogging or running, which both exert more energy than walking would. For people opting for this heightened intensity workout, less time is required to meet CDC recommendations — 75 minutes as opposed to 150. Of course, you’re also able to combine different intensities to achieve the same goal.
One other critical element that often gets overlooked is strength training. Aerobic activities should be supplemented by at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities per week. During this time, equal attention should be paid to all of the major muscle groups, so that no area is neglected and your entire body becomes healthier in unison.
If the strength training is too overwhelming or the 150 weekly minutes is intimidating, it’s important to know that any amount of activity will bring health benefits. As you become more comfortable with your preferred form of exercise, increase the intensity and time accordingly.
Diversifying Your Daily Fitness Regimen
Once you understand what the basic recommendations are for physical activity, the next step is figuring out how to get there. For people who haven’t had success in traditional fitness settings, it can seem difficult to find an alternative, but it’s all about prioritizing your preferences and seeing what fits into your lifestyle.
With so many machines at your disposal, gyms might seem like the perfect place to start. But if you don’t know how to use the equipment, it may be a source of greater frustration. Asking for assistance can also be intimidating depending on your gym, and the crowded environment can be especially overwhelming for new members.
So if you’re starting out, at-home options might be your best bet for building your comfort and confidence with different moves. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stay fit with little to no equipment needed — ideal for beginners or if you just want to test out a new activity.
There are countless online resources at your fingertips, many of them completely free. You can get step-by-step instructional videos from experts in different fields, demonstrating exercises for you to follow along. Movements can be done at different fitness levels. Many don’t even require added weights so you can leverage the weight of your body to build muscle. For at-home workouts, having a yoga mat to use as a cushion is often beneficial.
While not inside the house per se, you can also take advantage of your natural surroundings when getting active. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, near the coast or by the woods, you can almost always find somewhere to move. Walk alone, with friends, or with a dog. Run, jog, hike, or bike those same routes. There are so many ways to explore while getting your aerobic exercise in.
If you’re really looking for something outside of the box, group classes or team activities are a great place to get moving alongside others who have shared interests. Here are some non-traditional exercise options you might consider: