How to Get in Shape After a Long Period of Inactvity

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Inactivity breeds complacency. Dropping onto your couch after a long day at work has become a comfortable habit. And, even though you know you should get in shape, it’s tough to overcome the mental resistance. Exercise takes work and discipline. Getting in shape after being sedentary means making a physical and mental commitment to improving your health and becoming physically fit. There’s satisfaction to getting in shape after a long period of inactivity, not only from looking better than you have in years, but from participating in activities that challenge and inspire you.

Step 1

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Stop making excuses. Rid your mind of all the negative chatter that’s been holding you back from getting in shape. No more, "I can’t" or "I’m too tired." Replace those kinds of statements with positive affirmations that speak to your goals -- whether those are to have better health, a toned body or improved self-esteem. Declare your intent to get back in shape on a daily basis and visualize what you want your body and your life to look like once you’re in shape. Pictures of what you want to look like, or what you used to look like, may be the simple motivators you need to become re-inspired every day, so put them where you’re bound to see them, at work and at home.

Step 2

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Get your gear together. Buy yourself the best running shoes you can afford. If your feet hurt from ill-fitting sneakers, you won’t look forward to putting them on. The same goes for your workout clothes. If they’re dingy or have holes, you won’t want to be seen in them and that can be a de-motivator. Purchase, rent or borrow anything you might need to kick-start your fitness plan – that means everything from a yoga mat, workout DVDs, water bottle or gym bag. Having all your tools at the ready will give you less time to ponder and more incentive to road test your gear.

Step 3

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Start slow. Even though the Centers for Disease Control advocates 150 to 300 minutes every week, or 20 to 30 minutes a day of moderate aerobic activity, you can start getting back in shape by working out for 10 minutes at a time. Set the countdown timer on your phone and take a brisk walk around your neighborhood. Put on your favorite dance tunes and let your spirit move you around the living room. As long as your chosen activity gets your heart rate up, you can be as creative as you like. When your fitness level improves, then exercise for 20 to 30 minutes a day doing an activity you enjoy.

Step 4

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Change your diet to reflect your commitment to getting in shape. Swap out the prepackaged, overly sweet or salty foods for healthier ones. Buy fresh, luscious fruits and vegetables, leaner cuts of meat and whole-grain products. Use low-fat dairy products and fill jars with a variety of nuts and seeds that you can snack on when your energy stores need a boost. Pour over recipes that you’ve never tried. Experiment with exotic spice blends -- anything to change what you have been doing into something new and exciting. Getting in shape never has to be boring.

Things You'll Need

  • Running shoes

  • Workout clothes

  • Water bottle

Tip

Make getting in shape such an intrinsic part of your lifestyle that you won’t be tempted to slip back into inactivity. It’s about your mindset as much as your physical stamina. Motivate yourself with the desire to be healthy and fit for the rest of your life and that commitment will spur you on.

Warning

Check with your health-care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time, if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.

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