The tennis shoes collecting dust. The yoga mat curled in the back of your closet. The gym membership that hasn’t seen you in, well, months. Like you need anymore proof that sticking to an exercise routine is tough. Hey, who ever said New Year’s resolutions can’t be made in any time of the year?
Never fear. We’ve got a list of tips to help you grow healthier, stronger and more active — and we’re willing to bet these suggestions will provide at least a little motivation to put those stretchy pants to good use.
Conquer the Pain
By now you’ve probably heard the stats. Chronic pain can put a major cramp in an exercise routine, and yet over half the country suffers from some sort of debilitating pain. So what’s a person to do when they want to be healthier, stronger and more active? Get themselves to a physical therapist — pronto. Physical therapy can help alleviate pain better than popping a pill or sitting on the couch, and the results are often permanent.
Physical therapy can help with all types of chronic musculoskeletal and neuropathic types of pain, from ongoing headaches to fibromyalgia. A physical therapist can manipulate your bones and joints to reduce discomfort. She can work with you to form an exercise and movement plan that lessens your pain and increases your mobility. A physical therapist can also help with laser therapy, massage or microcurrent stimulation — all in the name of getting you up moving and living life to the fullest.
All that mind over matter stuff really works. Research shows that a positive attitude can boost your immune system and increase your energy levels. Your body believes what you think, so try to focus on maintaining an attitude of gratitude and look for the positive even in the midst of turmoil. If you’re ever feeling stuck or unsure how to creep out of a negative disposition, repeat the following mantra: I have the power to create change. Because you do.
Don’t think for a minute we don’t love our hoagie rolls or dipped-in-milk cookies. Quite the contrary, we love to spoil ourselves with treats. Just try to balance those delicious yummies with a well-rounded, healthy diet. Here are some tips to get you going:
- Consider Uncle Sam’s recipe for health: lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products; some lean meats or meat substitutes, beans, eggs and nuts; and minimal saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
- Avoid skipping meals. Eating consistently provides your mind and body with the fuel necessary to help you get and stay active. It also helps you avoid your blood sugar dropping, which can lead to irritability, nervousness and a whole host of other problems.
- Snack smart. It’s okay… Let’s rephrase that. It’s good to snack. Doing so keeps you at your best so that you can sustain your energy and stay positive. Choose peanuts over pretzels.
That’s right. We give you permission to be sneaky when it comes to exercise.
Physical therapy often prescribes small changes to a person’s routine in order to make the adjustments manageable. Some ways that even a physical therapist would approve of include:
- Park farther away from your destination and walk the extra distance;
- Walk up and down the field while your children are playing sports;
- Take the dog on walks with the whole family;
- Exit the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way;
- Opt for the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator; and
- Rake leaves, shovel snow or otherwise maintain your yard.
Whether you’re 22 or 72, whether you’re suffering from chronic pain or simply need more motivation, living a life healthier, stronger and more active will improve your physical and mental health.