Physical activity won't just happen. Most activities require planning – starting and maintaining a physical activity program does too.
Here are some tips to getting ready to exercise:
- Make exercise a top priority. You know the health benefits of physical activity. If you want to feel good, drop some of that excess weight, increase your energy levels, improve your mood and feel more relaxed, make the commitment to a healthier life. Remember, if you need help, ask for it. Speak to your local primary, allied health or fitness provider about the state of your health. Ask them how they can support your physical activity. If possible, recruit a skilled team to support your lifestyle changes.
- Set yourself short and long-term SMART goals that are:
- Time based.
- Don’t weigh yourself every day as your weight fluctuates daily. Weigh yourself once a week at the same time of the day. Remember many of the benefits of exercise are more than weight loss.
- Draw up an activity action plan and use it. Keep a diary of your activities. This could be a weekly plan that sets out the specific activities you are going to do each day and for how long. Include your goal for that week or month and build in rewards (such as tickets to the movies, rather than something like fast food takeaway).
- Make some allowances for missed sessions and setbacks – they are inevitable and a great learning experience. If you plan for and accept them, modifications can be made to your plan without major disruptions.
- Make the time to exercise. You don’t have to find hours each day to exercise. With just 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity – that increases your heart rate and breathing – on most, if not all days, you’ll notice the benefits. It can even be broken into 10-minute chunks. High-intensity interval training (HITT) is also becoming a popular method of training that takes less time and is showing some positive results in research trials. HITT usually involves repetition of exercises at high intensities just below maximum effort with short rest periods. It is advisable to seek expert support and supervision before starting this type of activity.
- Choose an exercise. Think about what you like doing. Consider the environment you’d enjoy when being physically active. It might be indoor, outdoor, in a pool or with equipment. This will make it more enjoyable, which helps to keep you motivated.
- Turn everyday things into active time. Make your everyday tasks more active. Take the stairs. Work up a housework sweat! Park your car further away. Take public transport, which generally requires some walking. Break up long periods of sitting by standing and moving around. Spend active time with the kids – play in the park or backyard.
- Reject excuses. Most people can come up with plenty of reasons not to be active – too busy or too tired, not having the ability, the money or the support. Most of these barriers can be overcome. Don’t let them get in the way of a happier, healthier you.
- Think about the benefits versus the costs. There are lots of good reasons to be active. You can burn up kilojoules, improve your health, reduce stress and make new friends. Draw up a table of the benefits of being active versus the costs of remaining sedentary.
- Review your plans and goals, and track your progress. You may find that you can gradually increase some activities while others are just too hard. You could consider more convenient times to exercise or find some new activities. There may be times when expert advice from a health or exercise professional may be needed for you to break through plateaus in your training progress. Tracking your progress can be a great motivator. Keep a diary or use one of the apps for phone or tablet that are available. Reaching each goal will give you the confidence to strive for the next one.
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