Get Fit, Do Good
To develop and stick to a regular exercise routine, put yourself second instead of first.
For some reason, sometimes the best way to muster the motivation to go for a walk or head to the gym is to do it for somebody else, especially for someone who lives a less fortunate life than you. Let's not bother analyzing why – instead, take advantage of that generous spirit and get moving to improve someone else's life (and while you're at it, you'll be improving your own life, too!).
Not sure where to begin? These ideas should get you started.
Stroll for dollars
A wide variety of charities hold annual races for runners and walkers to raise money for research or to defray individual medical costs. Once you sign up, gather as many pledges as you can; it will help keep you motivated as you train. You can also contact the race sponsors for names of other contestants nearby so you can band together to train. Or start your own race: Sandi Garcia launched the Mother's Day Run, Walk and Waddle in Denver in 2007 to benefit research on post-partum depression. (www.runwalkandwaddle.com)
Walk with the big dogs
Spend an hour a couple days a week walking dogs at your local shelter. You can do it on your own or join with others from your fitness class or workplace. Beth Shaw, yoga instructor and author of Beth Shaw's YogaFit, regularly organizes events around Torrance, CA, where teachers and students visit a shelter to walk and care for the dogs.
Spend time with seniors
Here's a way to rack up some Activity PointsPlus values, cheer up the elderly, and maybe hear an entertaining or inspiring story: Volunteer at a nursing home and take some of the wheelchair-bound residents out for a walk, advises fitness trainer Paul F. Davis of Goldenrod, FL.
Be a personal trainer
Serve as fitness coach to a friend who's less motivated than you are but needs to get in better shape. After his friend had a heart attack, Philadelphia-based consultant Neil Gussman brought him to the gym every day, and they both got in shape.
Play in the dirt
Melissa Laughner of Cochran Mill Nature Center in Palmetto, GA, an environmental non-profit group, works with volunteers who help out with gardening and maintaining trails to keep in shape.
Dish it out
Volunteer at a soup kitchen or another nonprofit meal delivery organization. In Los Angeles, Project Angel Food relies on up to 60 volunteers a day to prepare 1,300 meals for homebound people with cancer, HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses. A volunteer may be in charge of chopping hundreds of onions or green peppers, or carrying vats of green beans, which can turn into quite a workout.
Swing a hammer
Habitat for Humanity draws on volunteers to build houses, and the variety of skills involved in a typical weekend of work can hit every muscle in the body.