Melton Sport HA Blog 2- 5 Ways To Kick Start & Maintain An Active Lifestyle
Posted: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 11:14
The benefits of engaging in physical activity are well documented, from physical benefits such as: weight loss, risk reduction in lifestyle diseases (heart disease, type 2 diabetes etc.) and improved bone density. To mental benefits such as improvements in: mood, self-esteem and reductions in various mental health disorders. Therefore, the benefits of physical activity seem endless.
Maintaining consistency to elicit the benefits of being physically active is often the greatest challenge. With research identifying behaviour such as engaging with physical activity to evolve into a habit taking on average 66 days whilst, for some taking far longer at 254 days. Therefore, leading a healthy and active lifestyle should be viewed as a life-long lifestyle change.
In turn, here are 5 ways to help kick start your active journey and remain consistent:
1.Start small & build:
The UK physical activity guidelines state that we should participate in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 times per week. Whilst, this may sound good, it should be noted that this is a guideline and something that should be built towards when first starting your active journey. It's vital to start at an intensity and frequency of physical activity that you feel you can manage and is within your own current capabilities. This is due to more ambitious initial goals increasing the likelihood of failure, demotivation and subsequent physical activity cessation. Therefore, creating small manageable goals (we will discuss goal-setting later on); that you are able to meet will build self-confidence and momentum. In turn, allowing you to set longer, more challenging goals and eventually meeting (or even exceeding) the national physical activity recommendations.
Additionally, by not letting your body sufficiently rest from the bodily stresses of physical activity will only heighten the risk of injury, particularly if you have previously been sedentary which can often lead towards deconditioning of bones, joints and muscles. Furthermore, excessively exercising has also be linked towards nullifying the benefits of being active with associations towards a weakening of the immune system, increasing the risk of infection, hormonal imbalances, low mood and chronic fatigue. Therefore, it is essential that you start your active journey at a rate that is within your current capabilities and ensure that you listen to your body throughout. Programmes such as the Couch to 5k and North West Leicestershire's daily boost 15 minute get up are great ways to slowly build physical activity within your current lifestyle. Whilst, smartphone apps such as the Active 10 app, which promotes you to break down physical activity into 10 minutes bouts, are a great way to kick-start a physically active lifestyle safely and ditch the "All or nothing" attitude.
With the limitations on the choices of physical activity that can be undertaken along with a large portion of the population currently working from home, being physically activity in an outdoor environment has never been more important. Walking is the most adopted form of physical activity and by exploring different outdoor settings and scenery, this can be a great motivator to being physically active long-term. Furthermore, the additional benefit of it being completely free should not be understated.
There are some fantastic resources online that can help you find running, walking and cycling routes that are just on your doorstep or a short journey away. By reconnecting with the surrounding environment this can further aid towards the never ending and well-known benefits of physical activity discussed earlier such as: a boost in mood, energy levels and overall fitness. So why not check out the following resources to help you get out and explore. Just don't forget the tea or coffee to keep those hands warm!
Goal setting is a great way to stay consistent and motivated in not only exercise but in general life. Goal setting can help you push yourself further and give you a sense of direction. By setting SMART goals you ensure that you are heading in a direction which is realistic and attainable for your own capabilities, rather than potentially setting yourself up for failure. When looking to set goals follow the SMART acronym:
Specific: Make the goal specific, what is it you wanted to accomplish? What steps are involved to succeed? By thinking in this manner, there is a significantly greater chance the goal will be accomplished. For example: "I want to get in shape" could be "I want to obtain a gym membership at my local community centre and work out four days a week to be healthier".
Measurable: A SMART goal must have a criteria for measuring progress. Consider how you will track the progress in achieving the goal. How will you determine if the goal has been reached?
Achievable: A goal must be achievable and attainable in accordance with both your resources and capabilities. Ensure that the goal stretches you to ensure you feel challenged but also that if tracked correctly is attainable.
Realistic: Is the goal you have set realistic with regards to your capabilities, the time frame and your current resources. Ask yourself are you able to commit to the goal? If so, can it be reached within these parameters.
Time: A goal must have a start and finish date. If not then the goal lacks a sense of urgency and in turn can create a lack of motivation to achieve it. Make sure to set a deadline that is a challenge but once again one can you believe you can reach.
4.Training Partner & Virtual Classes
Exercising with others can be extremely beneficial when starting your active journey. Having someone external that knows your goals, has potentially similar goals and wants you to be successful can be a huge source of motivation. Whether it's friendly competition or encouragement, having someone alongside you can often push you beyond the limits that you thought you had. Additionally, having someone to exercise with might just be a great way for you the let off steam or talk through the stresses of the day. Opening up in this current state of isolation is now more essential than ever for our mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, due to the national COVID-19 restrictions, exercising with individuals outside of your household/support bubble can be a challenge. Therefore, make sure you are fully aware of the current guidelines beforehand.
A great way to comply with the current restrictions but still benefit from that sense of community is by joining an online class. There are a variety of different classes online for you to choose from such as: Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Hiit and many more. Therefore, there is a virtual exercise class for everyone no matter what your current capability is, spare time available, equipment access and more. Virtual classes can provide you with that great source of external motivation of feeling part of a community from the comfort of your own home.
Check out these useful resources that highlight virtual classes going on around you: https://www.lrsport.org/virtual-activity-sessions
Or take a look at our Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages (MeltonSportHA) where we regularly promote ongoing virtual classes within the Borough.
Whilst, it's vitally important to partake in a form of physical activity that you enjoy in order to help sustain motivation, currently our options are limited. Therefore, building in rewards after working out or achieving your goals is a great way towards evolving a behaviour into a habit and making a long-term commitment to being physically active. Often our go to rewards are food-related however, we must be conscious to not consume foods or quantities of food that can negate or be detrimental to the activity performed. Therefore, if traditionally unhealthy foods are indeed the motivator, consider the quantity that you consume. Reading food labels and tracking calories using apps such as My fitness Pal are great ways to ensure you sufficiently reward yourself but stay on track to achieve your long term goals. Furthermore, small rewards such as a hot bath after exercise are great alternative ways to rewards yourself along with long term extrinsic rewards such as: running a desired distance and rewarding yourself with a new pair of running trainers. As you can see, rewarding is a very personal and adaptive process therefore, it can take some time to figure out what personally works for you. Hopefully, this guidance helps you along the way towards making a long term commitment to being physically active.