No matter your age our lifestyles have become very sedentary. Yet getting enough physical activity is a critical factor in our health status. Adequate physical activity helps your body function properly, improves sleep habits, and can reduce the risk for many chronic diseases that limit your lifestyle and life expectancy. What limits us from moving more and sitting less? Many times, it’s a lack of motivation, we don’t make it the priority it should have in our lives. If you’re struggling with this, try these 5 easy steps to start the year off on the right foot.
First, find simple ways to make exercise fun and enjoyable. You will not be motivated if you don’t like what you are doing. Exercise does not need to be fancy equipment or memberships. Any activity that just gets you up and moving or increases your pace is a step towards better health. This could include walking, biking, swimming, playing games, gardening, parking farther away on purpose, or increasing your pace when completing housework. Whatever physical activity you choose you want to make sure you are including all three types of activity daily or often as possible including aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening. Muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands, or your own body weight for resistance. Bone-Strengthening activities include running, jumping jacks, brisk walking, and weight-lifting exercises.
Second, find ways to fit exercise into your day. You may find it easier to do it first thing in the morning to get your day going or combine it with another task you have throughout your day. Start small with 10-minute increments and build up to 60 minutes or more each day. If you are already walking your dog, build in a longer time to walk, or instead of sitting for your entire lunch break, grab a buddy and take a walk for part of it. Make sure to check with your healthcare provider on any activity limitations based on any medical conditions you may have.
Third, make exercise a social activity. Remember the goal is to move more and sit less. Try a dance class or a friend or family gathering where you can do outdoor activities together. If you’re not comfortable with a crowd find a fitness buddy or two. Those that have similar interests in the activities you like to do and can be motivation for each other. If you prefer to stay home, use a streaming service to follow along with a YouTube exercise video or classes via another streaming service platform.
Finally, keep track of your exercise progress. Many times, we make goals and have good intentions, but after the excitement wears off or we don’t see the results we want, we give up. Using a notebook, app, or tracking device will help you measure the activity you’re doing and the steps you are taking to work toward your goal. Tracking lets you see what you have done and may help you find additional ways to increase your physical activity or improve your physical efforts. Keeping track helps you feel accomplished as small goals reached lead to big rewards. Sometimes just a break in routine gets you off track. In each situation such as business or personal travel, change in exercise buddy or class schedule, look for other ways to stay active to move more and sit less.