As National Physical Fitness month draws to a close, I’d like to share some great tips for staying active for today and your life—I know they’ve worked for me, and hopefully will work for you too!
Daily life activities, such as cleaning out the attic or washing the car, are great ways to get moving. Small changes can add more physical activity to your day and improve your health. I find my new habit of taking two or three-minute walking breaks while working several times a day, is great. I have my Fitbit set to remind me to get the rest of those 250 steps an hour set and I’ve also made it a habit to walk between projects.
Another thing I’ve gone back to doing is standing, walking, or stretching in place during TV commercials when I do watch TV.
I also park farther from the door when I’m going places and walk the rest of the way, it may only be 100 extra steps, but it still counts! By the same token, I also take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator whenever possible.
Even a shopping trip can be exercise because it provides a chance to walk and carry your bags. Chores such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and gardening also count.
It’s amazing how many fun places there are to be active. Having more than one place may keep you from getting bored. Here are some options:
- Join or take a class at a local fitness, recreation, or community center.
- Enjoy the outdoors by taking a hike or going for a walk in a safe local park, neighborhood, or mall.
- Work out in the comfort of your own home with a workout video or by finding a fitness channel on your TV, tablet, or other mobile device.
Sticking with a plan to be physically active can be a challenge. Online tools such as the NIH Body Weight Planner can help. The NIH Body Weight Planner lets you tailor your calorie and physical activity plans to reach your personal goals within a specific time period.
Devices you can wear, such as pedometers and fitness trackers, may help you count steps, calories, and minutes of physical activity. Trackers can help you set goals and monitor progress. You wear most of these devices on your wrist like a watch, or clipped to your clothing.
Keeping an activity journal is another good way to help you stay motivated and on track to reach your fitness goals.
Set goals. As you track your activity, try to set specific short- and long-term goals. For example, instead of “I will be more active,” set a goal such as “I will take a walk after lunch at least 2 days a week.” Getting started with a doable goal is a good way to form a new habit. A short-term goal may be to walk 5 to 10 minutes, 5 days a week. A long-term goal may be to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
Get support. Ask a family member or friend to be active with you. Your workout buddy can help make your activities more fun and can cheer you on and help you meet your goals. Believe it or not, your dog will make a great activity partner. Once you start walking with your dog, on a consistent, regular basis, they will remind you it’s time to get up and get out. (Mine brings me her leash and a pair of sneakers!)
Track progress. You may not feel as though you are making progress, but when you look back at where you started, you may be pleasantly surprised. Making regular activity part of your life is a big step. Start slowly and praise yourself for every goal you set and achieve.
Review your goals. Did you meet your goals? If not, why? Are they doable? Did you hit a roadblock trying to meet your goal? What will you do differently next week? Brainstorm some options to overcome future roadblocks. Ask a friend or family member to help support your goals.
Whether your goal is to be active 15 minutes a day, to walk farther than you did last week, or simply to stay positive, recognizing your efforts is an important part of staying on track. Decide how you will reward yourself. Some ideas for rewards include getting new music to charge you up or buying new workout gear.
Don’t get discouraged if you have setbacks from time to time. If you can’t achieve your goal the first time or can only stick to your goals for part of the week, remind yourself that this is all part of establishing new habits. Try to focus on what you will do differently moving forward, rather than on what went wrong. Pat yourself on the back for trying.
Most importantly, don’t give up. Any movement, even for a short time, is a good thing. Each activity you add to your life is another step toward a healthier you