April is National Move More Month which encourages people to get moving! This is truly a month for everyone – focused on promoting sustained, ongoing activity at your own individual pace. For those dealing with arthritis or other conditions that cause joint pain, movement is even more important for managing your symptoms. Consistent exercise can help maintain joint flexibility and reduce discomfort.
For many people, activity levels tend to plateau during the winter months. According to two-thirds of Americans, their amount of physical activity decreased over the winter. Who doesn’t want to spend the coldest season of the year curled up on the couch in front of the fire watching movies?
This spring, consider making the commitment to yourself to get outside more often. These 5 simple ways to move more can help you ditch your winter blues while creating a new exercise routine. It’s never too late to start!
- Schedule exercise into your day. We know that one of the hardest things about living an active lifestyle is finding the time for the activities you enjoy. Between work and family priorities, it can be tricky to even fit in a walk around the neighborhood, let alone a trip to your gym. Our advice? Start small and build movement into each day. This can mean starting your day earlier and taking a quick morning walk, scheduling time on your work calendar to get outside during lunch, or even prioritizing an afternoon stretching session. Once you make movement part of your routine, you may find it’s easier to stay active over time.
- Be patient with yourself. When starting a new exercise routine, you might be inclined to push yourself to improve overnight. But going from no activity to pressuring yourself to work out 5 times a week is easier said than done. Instead of aiming high at first, we encourage you to remember that even baby steps make a difference. If you’re starting from zero, set reasonable, achievable goals to begin with – maybe it’s as simple as an evening walk 2-3 times a week. Not only will you be setting clear intentions, but you’ll limit the risk of overdoing it too quickly.
- Grab a buddy to keep you honest. Exercise doesn’t have to be a solo activity. In fact, you might find it easier to keep active if you coordinate with friends or family members. Coordinate with a neighbor or friend for that early morning walk, or encourage a family member to join you for your evening stroll. If one of your friends is eager to get moving, invite them to a local fitness class like Zumba or Yoga, or find a local intramural sports league to join. By being accountable to another person, active living won’t just be a task in your daily routine but central to your social life.
- Pick up seasonal activities. Since it’s spring, you might as well get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Hit the golf course or putting green or take up gardening. Baseball and softball are often played in the spring and your local recreation department may have options for you to play casually. Outdoor activities are a great way to add more movement into your life, while also making the most of nice weather.
5. Listen to your body. As we’ve shared before, listening to your body and knowing when to take it easy or stop exercising is key. It’s normal to experience some muscle soreness, especially if you’re picking up a new activity. But ongoing, severe pain may indicate injury. If you have any concerns, consult your doctor.
For both high-impact and low-impact activities, you can take inspiration from some of our patient success stories. From playing softball to yoga, our patients are keeping up with the activities they love all year round.