February is American Heart Month and a great opportunity to make physical activity part of your routine to improve heart health. As with any exercise program, check with your primary care physician before starting for best recommendations for your personal health.
One of the easiest, most cost effective and helpful exercises for the heart is jogging. Many people think about running, but find it difficult to get started. The good news is you don’t just start out running; the best thing you can do is start slow – walking first, increasing your pace over time, mixing in a bit of jogging and then building those bits into longer periods of jogging. Here’s a few ways to give yourself motivation to get started:
- Pick a location you love – it can be near a river or lake, a street lined with sidewalks and store fronts, a beautiful park, a local stadium track or the gym for social interaction. The more you love the location, the better the chances that you want to spend time there and hit the mark of at least 30 minutes of exercise.
- Make yourself a great playlist – instead of worrying about the seconds ticking by on a clock, watch or timer, make yourself a playlist of songs you love that add up to the time you want to work out. If you choose 10 songs that average 4 minutes, you have a 40 minute workout built right in. As you listen to songs you love, the time flies by and at the end, you’ll have completed a great workout without clock watching.
- Use that playlist to your advantage – once you have songs you love, make it an opportunity to alternate during those songs between walking and jogging. It can be jogging through a certain verse or two, building up to jogging through a whole song, adding more songs as you develop your cardio routine and eventually jogging through your whole playlist! Intervals between walking and jogging are great for your cardio health and using your playlist makes it fun.
- Find a buddy – when you walk with someone, you are focused on the conversation and the time flies by. You can challenge each other to mix in jogging, such as jogging a minute on the treadmill next to each other, a short stretch at the track or to the next landmark in sight.
- Join a walking/running club – a lot of communities are starting these clubs to create camaraderie and slowly build you up to running an event such as a 5k. These clubs usually include some great social activities outside of running and are a great way to meet people.
- Sign up for a charitable 5k – even if you are not running yet, sign up for a charitable 5k in your area with your friends and do a mix of walking and jogging. Many of these events have a walk in addition to the full 5k and you are contributing to a good cause.