I’m starting to compile a list of resources for new computer users, and I thought that it might be interesting to take the same approach with thinking about exercise as a new activity for a person to consider.
Though using technology didn’t look the same in the 1980s as it does today, my elementary school had computers in every classroom from at least second grade, from what I can remember.
We’d play games that would reinforce the concepts we were learning in class, and, as we got older, we started to use the computers for projects, such as making banners or producing newsletters.
It was a gradual adjustment over many years to go from seeing using a computer as a fun activity (though we were still learning) to viewing the computer as a tool to complete tasks that would have taken us much longer without the technology.
Thinking about the way we use technology now, the shift has continued; most of us have mini personal computers that double as mobile phones, without which many of us would feel lost.
We’ve integrated technology into our lives, from making calls when away from home to locating new destinations in real time. This is just scratching the surface, given that we can now order meals or reserve a table on the fly, compose and edit documents, or communicate with others in a multitude of ways, all from a tiny, personal device.
So, what does any of this have to do with fitness and exercise?
Yes, you can use technology to enhance your fitness routine, but what if you are just starting out and don’t have a routine or any idea of what fitness technology would be beneficial to you?
If you were to look back, you were introduced to exercise (without the label) at a young age and, hopefully, your experience was fun. Maybe you ran around outside with friends or learned to ride a bike. Whatever it was, unstructured play allowed time for movement (without defined metrics for tracking effectiveness) and you moved because it was natural and enjoyable.
If you played sports in school, you, again, had the opportunity to move for fun, now with the addition of rules and scoring, which could tell you how you were doing in relation to your peers.
But what if you didn’t play sports in school, or what if you had a bad experience where the activity wasn’t fun, perhaps because of too much pressure to win or an injury that put you out of commission for a while?
If your experience with exercise wasn’t positive or you just weren’t inclined to spend much time moving, how do you begin again as an adult or get started in the first place? Further, even if you have had numerous positive exercise experiences, sometimes it can still be hard to adjust your routine.
Here’s my short list of steps that could make it easier for those new to exercise to get started:
- Start now when you are inspired (versus waiting until Monday, the first of the month, or some other future day).
- Choose an activity that you can do without special equipment (or that requires equipment you can access easily and regularly).
- Choose an activity that you enjoy or that you are excited to try.
- Set a goal that is measurable and attainable. (Bonus points if you set a SMART goal and enlist the support of others by sharing your goal publicly.)
- Block out exercise time on your calendar for the week.
- Evaluate your progress regularly and make adjustments, as necessary.
Are you employing some or all of these steps? Seasoned exercisers can benefit from the list above, too. Is there something else that was critical to your experience of getting started that you would recommend to a beginner?
The information available regarding exercise can be overwhelming, and it can be a challenge to determine where to start. The best thing to remember is that starting (and continuing) is more important than what activities you choose, especially when you haven’t been exercising consistently.
As you integrate exercise into your life, you can make adjustments, and, of course, you can add tech if you wish, to enhance your experience.
I’m a firm believer in finding fun fitness activities to do, as you’ll be more likely to repeat those activities. Adding activities that challenge you and help you to strengthen your body and increase your endurance will provide a number of health benefits, and, though it may take time, you’ll begin to feel satisfaction as you complete these activities — even if you wouldn’t categorize them as pure fun.
…And you’ll know when you’ve built a strong exercise habit, as your exercise routine will have become a staple in your life like your smartphone (you might feel lost without it).