In order to become more active it is important to plan ahead. The more sensible and well thought out the plan, the better your chance of succeeding at it.
Below are some points to consider as you prepare your action plan:
- What physical activity do you include in your day already?
- How much time? (how many minutes at a time)?
- How often (how many days a week or a month)?
- Do you prefer mornings, lunch hour, after work or evenings?
- Do you prefer to be alone, with family, or having your physical activity time be social time? Fitting activity into your schedule is more doable than trying to add it on top of your already busy life. Try lunchtime walks, or coffee time stretches.
Can you do these activities more often, more intensely, and for longer periods of time? If you enjoy an activity it is more likely you will keep doing it. Physical activity should be a positive time. It can be a time to relax, socialize, and/or work off your stress, or just to play.
Incorporate aerobic activities that work your heart and lungs as well as muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups.
- Moderate to vigorous aerobic activities.
- These activities make you breathe harder and sweat (swimming, bicycling, brisk walking or jogging, cross-country skiing or snow shoeing).
- Strength activities 2 days a week.
- These activities involve pushing, pulling and lifting against resistance (Lifting weights, yoga, lunges, squats, push ups).
- Flexibility and balance activities.
These activities help improve balance and coordination and become more important as you age (stretching, yoga, tai-chi).
- Let people close to you know what your goal is so that they can help support you along the way.
- Are there friends and family that have similar goals? Is there a person that can be a buddy so you can encourage each other to take the time for your activities?
- Have a Plan Ready For Poor Weather or Scheduling Conflicts.
- Make alternative plans with your activity buddy (If it is too icy to walk, plan on doing a workout video at home, or meet at the mall to walk)
- Have an emergency FIT KIT in the car, at the office or at home so that you can take advantage of any time that may come along.
Ideas for FIT KIT contents:
- Running shoes
- Clothing for indoor or outdoor activities
- A towel, and a wash kit (baby wipes are a great way to refresh after your workout if a shower is not available)
- Hat, mitts, scarf, and layers for the winter
- Water and a snack (e.g., granola bars, fruit, almonds, and crackers)
The first thing to consider is how realistic your health goals are. Trying to completely change your habits overnight can be overwhelming and lead to frustration. Your resolution should be something you can reach towards over the course of the year so you do not set yourself up for disappointment. You can’t say “I will walk 10km every morning” if you rarely walk, and hate getting up early. It is not realistic and you won’t be able to stick to it. Instead start with “I will walk for 15 minutes at lunch twice a week”. Then work up to longer time, more often, different and more challenging activities. It is easier to make one small change at a time, and once that becomes a habit, make another small change.
Some examples of goals to start include:
- I will park further from the door and walk
- I will take the stairs instead of the elevator
- I will take a walking break instead of a coffee break
- I will play actively with my children
- I will stretch for five minutes before going to bed or first thing in the morning
- I will lift and carry groceries or supplies (when it is safe to do so)
This is a positive and very important change for your health so be proud of that and remember that this is an opportunity for you to look forward in a positive way. Take some time to write down some of the positive things you have in your life in other areas. Be thankful for what you have and being proud of your accomplishments to keep your attitude positive and give yourself the support and encouragement you deserve.
- Consider what you are eating and how you are fuelling your body for these activities. Are there ways you could improve your nutrition?
- Make your own healthy eating plan to see if you are meeting your body’s daily requirements.