When I was in university taking my BA in Sports, Health and Physical Education there were a few key motos: It’s a great day for a run and physical activity is the magic pill. Physical activity is something that has a wide impact on many areas of overall health including but not limited to mental health, quality sleep, body composition, confidence and self-esteem and everything that ripples out from there. Yet so many of us struggle to make this a regular habit. Here are a few tips on how to make physical activity a more sustainable habit:
Build physical activity into your daily life.
We have all heard the recommendation to park your car further away from your destination to add more walking into your life. But how many times do we go shopping or have the ability to do that regularly? So how can we set up our home or work environment to be more supportive of activity? Some examples are: sitting on an exercise ball while working at your desk, having a pull-up bar in a doorway that you can do a quick hang or pull-up, or putting your workout gear out the night before to make it easier the following day. If you are more of a scheduler, try looking at your current schedule to see where you can fit 10 to 20 minutes of any movement into your day-to-day life. This can lead you to incorporate more consistent activity. If your environment is supportive of making those decisions to get active easier, then we’re more likely to reach your activity goals
Accountability can be important when getting started, unstuck and maintaining habits that we are struggling with consistency. Finding a friend, trainer, gym buddy or family member that will help you become more consistent and hold you accountable for when you don’t feel like moving. Communities like hiking or running groups can be really helpful by building connections that would notice if you are not there. This also introduces the next point, FUN, being part of a community and or getting out with friends can make the activity far more enjoyable.
If you enjoy what you do, you are going to do it more often. That is a truth that can be applied to everything. If you hate running, putting your shoes on can be the hardest thing to do. Yet if you love dancing, getting ready for dance class is exciting. To find long-term success find an activity that you enjoy and keep doing that.
Physical activity does not mean going to the gym
When we are starting to get more active the first thought is hitting the gym or running. For many these are not activities that people find fun especially when getting started and might feel nervous and anxious. However, there are so many other forms of physical activity like; hiking, rock climbing, paddle boarding, dancing, gardening, playing with children or pets, biking, skateboarding, surfing, and swimming, just to name a few. There are so many options, try different activities until you find one or a couple that you enjoy and will stick to consistently.
If you are struggling with physical activity, start slow, build a community and most importantly have fun. Like all habits, it’s a baby step in the direction of your goal. Making many little steps toward a goal is far more sustainable than making a few big steps.