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How the Internet Can Help You Exercise

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Author: @Tadiera

Author Website: http://www.heroic-leigh.com

Published: Feb 3rd 2011
Another quick article by my friend Tadiera about how to use online tools to help motivate you, and how it's worked for her. Another batch of good advice from her, and links to some good tools and exercise programs.

If you're like me, even the thought of exercise is a difficult one. There's so many other things you would rather be doing. Watching television, reading a good book, or even sleeping. You know you should exercise and maybe you have a gym through work or the weather is great. Maybe you have a treadmill or stationary bike gathering dust. The only thing you're missing is motivation.

So when my friends proposed that we start the Couch to 5k Program, I stepped up to the plate. If they could do it, so could I. If I had someone to go with, it'd be harder to make excuses to get out of it. I learned as a child that sometimes, setting personal goals doesn't work. It's hard to disappoint yourself.

"Hey, self, instead of doing laundry today, I'm going to play some video games. Is that alright?"

"We love video games! Let's do it!"

Yeah, it just doesn't tend to work. However, when you have people coming to your house, geared up and ready to hit the trail and do some jogging, it becomes a lot harder. You can't just answer that door and say, "Sorry, I'm going to sit on my butt instead." It's even worse if you try calling them; especially if you have trouble saying no to people, like me.

I'm not going to lie and say it's been easy so far. As the minutes tick by until they descend upon my home and drag me out to the fancy paths downtown that we walk on, I find myself full of dread. I have some minor health problems and asthma, so working out is simply put, misery. I end up hurting, sweaty, and so very tired.

Already, however, I feel the rewards. I sleep better at night and I'm on a better sleep schedule. This will help my body metabolize and heal as I sleep. When I wake up, instead of putting off eating for hours, I find I'm hungry. Sure, I might only eat some yogurt, but it's something. It gives my body a start and rather than eating far too much food at lunch and making my body fight to burn through the calories properly, I'm giving it what it needs to do its job properly. The next day, after the burn of my muscles stop, I feel good. Stronger, better.

I'm also a bit of a technology geek. I love playing with new toys. I've discovered the site RunKeeper. It tracks your activity (not just running: swimming, biking, and all manner of exercises are available) and lets you create routes that you can share. Like a lot of Web 2.0 sites, it has badges. I especially love that when I beat a previous goal (like running an extra mile), it'll email me to congratulate me. Nothing like a virtual pat on the back to make you feel proud.

There are also Android and iPhone applications for both RunKeeper and C25k. The former utilizes your GPS to track your distance and elevation while also tracking your time and calories. I found that I was averaging 8 minutes a mile on my last trip out, which is good for me (it used to take about 11 minutes). The latter has both a free and paid version and if you're serious about the Couch to 5k plan, I recommend getting it. You select which day of the plan you're on and it will sound a small bell through your phone for each change (from warm-up walk to jog to walk, etc.) while also allowing you to control your music.

My phone runs both apps at the same time without issue and it was a lot of fun to be sitting down, drinking my water, and reviewing what I had done. I was also able to immediately post to Twitter and Facebook what I had done, which meant I was able to return home to support from friends.

Getting out there and moving is hard. It always will be. Doing it with friends or utilizing applications and websites like those I listed can make it more fun and something that's fun will always be easier to do than something that's pure work. Just like TweeterDiet tries to help make tracking your weight more fun and supportive, so do sites like RunKeeper.

If you do join RunKeeper, feel free to add me to your "street team". I'm tadiera.