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Get Moving One Step at a Time

Get Moving One Step at a Time

Local Physical Therapist Offers Tips for Getting Started

January is here and it’s time to get moving. You don’t have to go to the gym five days a week to get in better shape, but you do need to get started, whether your goal is to run a marathon or just get off the couch.

“Physical activity is medicine for the body,” said Ross Edmunds, DPT, a physical therapist at Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. “It helps you have a better quality of life and continued mobility as you age.”

According to Edmunds, physical activity offers a lot of health benefits. It can reduce your risk for a number of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Studies show that physical activity strengthens the heart muscle, increases good cholesterol, and lowers blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and blood sugar. Aerobic exercise and strength training can help prevent osteoporosis by slowing the loss of bone density.

Exercise can also improve mental health, he added. According to Edmunds, endorphins are released in the brain that can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression.

“No matter what your current physical condition is, you can improve your health by creating achievable milestones that can boost your motivation and momentum,” he explained. “First, it’s important to think about your goal because it’s hard to get started if you don’t know why you’re doing it. It might be that you want to keep up with your granddaughter, walk two miles with a friend, or enter a triathlon. Maybe you just want to feel better. Knowing why you want to get moving is the first step.”

He encourages people to be kind to themselves and remember that physical fitness looks different for everyone. “It’s not that ripped person you see in pop culture. That’s not a realistic goal for most people,” he added.

Getting started can be overwhelming for anyone, so Edmunds said to focus on incremental milestones that are doable. For example, if you want to be able to walk to your local park a mile away, start by walking a quarter mile every day for a week. If that goes well, try to walk a half a mile a day the following week, and so on. “Focus on your successes, not your failures,” he stressed.

Have Fun

It’s also important to pick something you enjoy doing and find a community, he said. Walking, bicycling and swimming are great activities that can be fun. Get family, friends or co-workers to join you, or find a walking club or other group activity. Your community can help to provide motivation as well as accountability.

Home fitness equipment is helpful, but you don’t need it to improve your fitness level, according to Edmunds. Stairs can be used for step-up exercises and cans or other heavy items around the house work well as weights.

“Stepping up one stair and then back down can help improve balance and leg strength,” Edmunds explained. “If you don’t have stairs, you can find a curb. Again, it’s about setting measurable milestones so you can increase the number of step-ups you can do, or the number of times you can lift a water bottle or other hand weight over your head, and you will get closer to your fitness goal.”

There is no magic exercise or fitness routine. It’s really about finding an activity you can be passionate about and doing it.

Edmunds added, “My two favorite sayings are ‘motion is lotion’ and ‘movement is medicine.’ Just get out there and start moving. It’s OK to feel aches and pains as your body gets used to movement, but slow and steady wins the race. Don’t overdo it and don’t forget to stay focused on your successes.”

The Washington Hospital Wellness Center offers a wide variety of fitness classes that can help you get started and improve your health. To learn more, visit For more information about the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, visit