We’ve all seen ads promoting the latest diet trend and the viral exercise routines that are supposed to give you the perfect body. Over time, this messaging has led many people to equate long, intense workouts – often focused on weight loss – with being healthy. Fitness is all about slimming down and gaining muscle, right?
The truth is, it’s not. While it can benefit you, you don’t have to spend hours wearing out your body to enjoy the health benefits of exercise. Recent studies have shown that taking small steps towards fitness can lead to big benefits for your overall wellness.
However, many people still believe the road to fitness lies in intense workouts, including some of your members. As advocates for your community’s health and wellness, the way you speak with your members can either confirm or contest that belief.
Encouraging your members to take small steps can help make their fitness journey more approachable and lead to big health benefits. But what does taking small steps mean?
What Are Small Steps?
When people imagine what “fitness” looks like, they tend to think of weightlifters, trainers, or athletes. While these professionals are definitely fit, they’re not the end all be all goal for fitness. Even the smallest amount of exercise can benefit your overall fitness and health.
- Many people spend a large portion of their day seated. One study shows that you can positively affect your risk factors of lifestyle diseases by “spending just one hour less sitting daily and increasing light physical activity.”
- Light exercise can benefit your mental health as well. An ASICS study found that just 15 minutes and 9 seconds of physical activity can trigger a positive change in your mental state.
- A study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that one in nine cases of depression could be prevented by doing 2.5 hours of brisk walking per week. Broken down, that’s about 21 minutes of walking per day. Compared to adults doing no activity, even 10 minutes of walking per day could lower the risk of depression by 18%.
At its core, taking small steps means finding different ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Over time, those minutes add up to greater change.
How Can You Encourage Small Steps?
The benefits of introducing fitness at any level are there, but your members have busy lives. How can you encourage them to build a few minutes of exercise into their daily schedule?
Make Fitness the Goal
For many people, their fitness journey begins with the goal of losing weight. However, studies have shown that focusing on weight loss doesn’t show the same health benefits as focusing on overall fitness.
Obese people who exercise with the goal of improving their fitness can lower their risk of premature death by 30% or more, regardless of if they lose weight. Sometimes scales don’t accurately reflect the internal benefits of exercise, and that can be frustrating and discouraging. You can keep your members motivated by encouraging them to focus on improving their overall wellness rather than losing weight.
As more people embrace wellness as the ultimate goal of exercise, more beginner-friendly resources are becoming available. Programs like Casey Johnston’s Liftoff: Couch to Barbell are making strength training approachable for everyone. For true beginners, channels like Hybrid Calisthenics can help them learn the basics and build their skills for free.
Do some research to find what’s motivating beginners to embrace fitness. This can inspire new programs to get your community moving. It can also give you free, approachable resources to share with your members. Starting a fitness journey can be intimidating, and any additional support you can provide will keep your members motivated.
This is a great opportunity to get your members involved as well. What fitness programs are they excited about?
Embrace Gradual Change
You can’t become an athlete overnight. Improving your endurance and strength takes time, and so does developing a fitness habit. Research shows that it can take between 18 to 254 days for you to form a new habit, and an average of 66 days for a new habit to become automatic.
Encourage your members to show up for themselves every day. It may only be for a few minutes when they start out, but that’s okay. If they start off intensely, they can burn out and drop the practice before it becomes a habit. Setting a routine like a walking program that increases in intensity over time can help them start off small and build the habit alongside their endurance.
Beginning a new fitness routine can be overwhelming and scary. Start where your members are comfortable and take it slow. If they’re struggling, showing them compassion can encourage them to keep going. Over time, they’ll build confidence in their new fitness habit.
You don’t have to be an athlete to reap the health benefits of exercise. Encourage your members to take small steps towards fitness and they’ll see great rewards for their overall wellness.
The way you speak to your members matters, especially when you’re communicating digitally. Learn more about how you can cut through the noise and reach your members with your website and digital marketing.