Springtime is here, and with it comes warm weather, sunshine and longer days. For many of us, it also brings increased energy and the opportunity to be more active. You don't have to have a fancy bike or a gym membership; here are seven tools you can use to get active this spring!
If you keep an open mind and open your eyes, you may discover that there are opportunities for getting active right in front of you. Do you drive past a park, mountain, or path every day without a glance? Try stopping the car and exploring the area; you may discover some new favorite spaces. Do you reflexively get behind the wheel to do an errand? Try walking there; it may take longer but you will feel great when you return.
Fitting your feet with comfortable shoes is the key to not only getting out there, but staying out there. Head to your local running or sports store to find the best style and fit for you. But keep in mind that not all shoes are created equal; the activities that you will be doing matter. Running shoes are not the same as trail hiking shoes, and you want to be sure you give your feet the best shot at supporting your body through your springtime activities.
Whether it’s a GPS or a tried-and-true paper map, having a guide to the area can help you to discover new routes. Try picking one new street a week to discover and soon you may find that you have explored an entire new area! Many parks have trail maps posted on a bulletin board or on their websites, with the available walking, running, or biking paths. Try mapping out a route in advance to set a new challenge for yourself, or repeating the same route to compare your pace week after week.
Water, water water; staying hydrated is key to feeling great as your activity increases and the temperature rises. Be prepared and come with water in hand for your outdoor activities. Keep some extra water bottles in your car, or find places along your route to refill your container. You may also find that a water belt, pack, or hand strap can help you stay hydrated while keeping your hands free.
I try to keep a bag packed and ready for action, sitting in a place where I simply can’t ignore it. Start with the basics: shoes, socks, shorts, shirts and sunglasses. Then add other items to the bag that will be useful for a particular activity; for example, a pedometer or an MP3 player can be great items to enhance a long walk. Placing the bag in a grab-and-go spot will help inspire you to grab it and just go.
It doesn’t have to be that kind of date. Having a set time and place to show up for an activity can be a useful tool for following through on your goals. Many areas have recreational soccer, volleyball or hiking clubs, which can be a great way to get outdoor activity while making new friends. No organized clubs in your area? Try starting a Meetup group or other club based on what you would like to do, and you may find that others are interested in that activity too. Or try making a standing walking date with a friend or even with your kids. If you schedule it on the calendar as an expected activity, you will show up.
Whether it’s a stopwatch, a kitchen egg timer, or an app on your smartphone, a tool to track the time can be a useful tool for inspiring you to reach a new level of activity and fitness. Try using it to time your total minutes of activity and make a goal for increasing that time by one minute at every session. Or use it to do intervals; for example, jog for two minutes and walk for two minutes. Another way to use the stopwatch or timer is to make a game out of your workout; every five minutes you get to change your activity, intensity, or speed.
With a few basic tools, the long-awaited springtime will be full of fitness and fun. And there's no better feeling than enjoying the sunshine while you do something good for your body, mind, and soul.
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