Did you make any New Year’s health resolutions? I assume many people have by now. A new commitment to being healthy can mean different things to different people – quit smoking, lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, or something else that will make for a healthier lifestyle.
Keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions once they are made can be the hard part. Having an ambitious New Year’s resolution but then falling off the wagon can be like getting in the car and driving along without a roadmap, then ending nowhere you want to be.
Today, I want to help you achieve your health goals by making one important change – Become More Physically Active. The following 10 strategies show you how to stick to a New Year’s resolution of doing just that.
1. Be clear why you are doing it.
Sedentary behavior is an important risk factor for cancer and other serious chronic diseases. Why is staying active important to you? Is it because of an effort to lose weight? A measure to prevent obesity, heart disease, and cancer? A way to boost energy? Or a therapy to reduce stress? Knowing why you are doing something means you will more likely stick to it.
One physical activity guideline for adults is to aim for moderate exercise or activity 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. If you are rarely physically active, you may start with breaking it down to 10 minutes each time, 3 times throughout the day. You should choose activities that fit your abilities. If you cannot run, consider jogging or walking faster when you are going somewhere on foot.
3. Set a time for it. Make it your priority.
If it’s hard for you to find time, do it the first thing in the morning before the rest of your day starts. Then you’ll feel good when you are done.
4. Have a system and make it work.
It could be “walk 20 minutes a day, do it after dinner, repeat it each day, reward myself at the end of month”. Or it could be “sign up a fitness program or a yoga class AM or PM, walk up-and-down stairs more during the day, and garden during the weekend, then repeat.” You get the idea.
5. Little moves add up and small steps count.
With modern technologies and today’s lifestyle, we sit more and move less, as I have discussed in previous blogs. You can incorporate “sit less, move more” choices into your everyday life with little effort. For example, you can:
- get off the bus or train a stop or two earlier to walk home or to work.
- walk up stairs without using the elevator or escalator.
- park the car farther away from stores, malls, or buildings you are going to.
- spend more time on active interests, such as gardening or golfing.
- walk to nearby stores instead of driving.
- clean the car yourself.
- do more chores such as vacuuming the house.
- play more with the kids.
6. Do it as much as you can and as often as you can.
There is no such thing as exercising too much as long as your health condition allows it. The opportunities are endless.
7. Try something new and make it fun.
Whether it’s learning a dance, practicing yoga, or joining a community sport team, find something that motivates you and excites you. Make it fun, not a burden.
8. Exercise with the season.
You can plan monthly or quarterly actions or activities. With the Winter Olympic Games around the corner, enjoy ice skating, skiing, and other outdoor activities. With cold weather in winter, you can choose some indoor exercises, fitness program(s) at the gym, walking in the malls, or visiting museums. In the spring and fall, hike and/or bike while getting pleasure from nature’s beauty. In summer, swim at the local Y or go to the ocean and do beach activities.
9. Review, Revise, and Reward.
Having a written goal and taking action toward it are initial steps. Re-examine your goal from time to time to see if it is effective and the steps toward it are attainable. If not, revise it. If you’ve made progress, celebrate it and reward yourself.
10. Get support from family members, friends, fitness buddies, classmates, and even online pals or social media.
Share your plan with people. Letting others know your goal publicly can increase the chance that you stick on it.
Overall, you don’t need to struggle or make a huge change in your lifestyle in order to boost your physical activity. Consistently following these strategies, you’ll see the results. To become a healthier, fitter, happier, and better you, also integrate more fruits and vegetables into your diet and drink a lot of water. In due course, you can reap considerable benefits.