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In February, we show our love for others with candy and chocolate hearts, but it is just as important to think about how we show love for our own heart, that vital organ that keeps us alive. Like all the other muscles in our body, our heart needs exercise to stay healthy and strong.

Winter can be a tough time to get motivated to exercise—the days are short, the weather is unpredictable and we get comfortable in our routines at home. Perhaps you made a resolution to exercise more, but found January passed by too quickly. How about a fresh start this February?

15 minutes is all it takes

You don’t have to go to the gym for an hour or run a marathon to be healthier. Taking 15-30 minutes a day to exercise can make a world of difference for your health.

Turn it into family time

If you find it hard to fit exercise into the day, try to make it family time. Get everyone at home to dance for 3-4 songs in a row and 15 minutes will fly by. Your heart will be pumping, and you’ll have more energy to finish the day.

Make it fun – make it a challenge

Challenge your family or friends to a daily contest of jumping jacks, push-ups, sit ups or lunges. If you have kids who don’t want to exercise, make it a condition for electronic media use: they need to exercise for 15 minutes to earn 30 minutes of media time. They may push back, but in time will join you if you show them exercise is fun.

Healthy alone time

Would you like a little alone time? Set aside 15 minutes for a yoga or stretching routine at the beginning or end of the day when the house is quiet.

Set a goal

Motivate yourself by setting a goal, keeping track of your progress and giving yourself a reward for finishing. If you are already exercising, try increasing the intensity or amount of time you exercise.

#GetFitFebruary Challenge

This month, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers will feature people who have made exercise a part of their daily routine—offering fun photos and tips for you to try! And, we want you to join along by taking the Get Fit February Challenge!

All you have to do is:

  1. Post a photo or video of yourself doing a healthy activity or exercise ONCE A WEEK during the month of February.
  2. Tag @Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers (Twitter: @16thStreetCHC, Facebook: facebook/sschc) in each post.
  3. Use the hashtag #GetFitFebruary in each post.

Share what works for you. It could inspire someone to do the same, or be just what someone needs to hear to make a little change. By joining the challenge and sharing your secrets, you will be entered into a drawing to win a Get Fit Kit and be named one of Sixteenth Street’s Get Fit February Champions!

Molly Cousin, MD, is a pediatrician at Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers

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