Can you help me find my way back to fitness?

My exercise routine seems to have fizzled this winter. I want to get back into some kind of physical activity, but I'm not sure how to start up again. Can you help me find my way back to fitness?

Answer provided by Debby Benjamin, RN, MBA, Providence Care Management

March is a month of change - spring's longer days and daylight savings time mean more opportunities to be outside. Whether you plan to spend time in the yard readying your garden, dusting off - and hopefully, riding - your bicycle, or reacquainting yourself with your golf clubs or walking shoes, it's time to shake off the winter doldrums. Spring has officially sprung.

Restart your exercise engine

Wanting to increase your activity is good. However, if you've taken a vacation from exercise over the past few months, be sure to check in with your health care provider before you start. Once you get the OK, ease - don't race - back into your routine. If your last bike ride in October was 100 miles and you haven't been back in the saddle since, don't plan to relive that ride. I always think I've kept my edge - until the next day or so, when my preferred fragrance is BENGAY®. I try to remind myself that with each year, I'm older; I just need to work on the "wiser" part.

Reclaim your motivation

Medical literature abounds with reports that exercise has a positive impact on our attitude, health and weight. What are your goals? Perhaps you're ready to part ways with those extra pounds you've acquired in your less active months, or want to improve your flexibility to help you endure the rigors of your daily routine. Maybe you want some relief from the stress in your life, a way to meet new friends or just to put some fun back in your life. A group activity, such as yoga or Zumba, can help you connect with like-minded folks. Walking or biking is much more than just exercise - think of all the places you can see along your journey. Don't know where to start? Check out our selection of health and fitness classes, and support groups. Pick something that appeals to you and that can help you meet your health and wellness goals.

Reestablish a routine

Once you've selected an activity that brings you joy, congratulate yourself. Now comes the hard part - actually following through. Whatever you do, try to commit to doing it four to five times each week. Think of it as a standing health and wellness appointment with yourself. For me, finding time is the biggest challenge. If you can't find an uninterrupted hour each day to exercise, break it up into chunks throughout the day - two half-hour sessions, or three 20-minute mini activities; the minutes add up, and the benefits are just as good.

Remember to keep things interesting

To keep yourself motivated, track your progress. Whether with a check mark on your calendar or a detailed log in a journal or laptop, tracking also keeps you on target. No one is perfect, so don't beat yourself up if you miss a day; however, if you seem to be missing, rather than moving, more days than not, it may be time to reassess. Is your routine not keeping your interest? Maybe you committed to a gym when you really prefer to be outdoors. Or perhaps you wish you had a buddy, rather than exercising solo. There's always time to try, try again. You can change it up without having to give up.

So now that spring has sprung, I encourage you to dig deep into the garden of metaphors: it's time to plant a seed of change, tend to your body lovingly and patiently, and enjoy watching yourself blossom.

Have a health-related question? Ask a Providence nurse! Email and one of our knowledgeable nurses will try to respond with the information you need to find your path to better health.