Motivational Tips to Get in Shape for a Physical Fitness Test or General Wellness

US Navy 030506-N-5862D-128 An instructor in the Freedom Hall athletic complex uses a stopwatch while recruits run a 1.5-mile track during a Physical Fitness Test (PFT).jpg

Maybe you are already pretty active but need to ramp up your workouts for prospective employment. For example, those applying to the police academy or the correctional officer academy often must pass a physical fitness test before and/or during their time as a recruit.

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Or maybe you are a busy student or working professional who feels like you need to start making time for exercise.  According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, “Adults should do a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week,” and for added health benefits, they should aim to gradually increase this to five hours a week (or 2.5 hours of vigorous aerobic activity). The Guidelines add that, Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day.” Not only does regular exercise benefit your physical health—it is also a great stress reliever from a hectic school schedule or intense work day.

Whether you’re just starting to get in shape, training for a criminal justice professional physical test, or somewhere in between, it can sometimes be difficult to get motivated.  Here are some tips that may help!

1. Organized Training Program: If you are training for a physical fitness test, find a specialized three-month (or longer) physical training program that works for you. This may be an organized class or through a one-on-one trainer, and there are also numerous formats you can complete on your own or with a fellow trainee. Some of the best independent programs are those outlined by the law enforcement department to which you are applying, which allows you to work on all core components at a gradual pace.

2. Set Goals: Set weekly goals and write them down in the form of a schedule. Find a way to reward yourself at the end of the week for meeting these goals, whether it is treating yourself to a movie, allowing yourself to sleep in on Saturday or something else that serves as positive reinforcement.

3. Active Transportation: The aerobic part of your exercise routine can easily fit into your schedule. For example, if your goal is to walk or run 30 minutes a day, why not complete this on your way to work, school, the grocery store or other key destinations. You can also choose to park your car or get off the bus farther away from your destination to get your aerobic workout in.

4. Make it Fun for YOU: If you’re a social butterfly, recruit a friend or colleague to be your exercise partner, form a walking, running or recreational sport group or join a gym. If you love music, put together some inspirational playlists to listen to while you’re exercising. You might like to pretend you’re a tourist in your own city or town and pick a new neighbourhood to explore on foot…The possibilities are endless!

5. The Night Before: You can psych yourself up each night before you go to bed to motivate yourself to workout the next day. Set out your exercise clothes and equipment so they’ll be the first thing you see when you wake up. If you’re planning on working out first thing in the morning, move your alarm clock to a spot where you physically have to get out of bed to turn it off. Prepare a nutritious and delicious meal to eat after your exercise session.

As you begin your new fitness regime, be aware that it is possible to over-exercise. If you have any doubts about your level of activity, talk to your family doctor, a trainer or another health professional.