It is no secret that getting active provides many benefits to our overall health and wellbeing. We have all heard this echoed by doctors and fitness professionals for years. By now, we are well aware of the benefits of an active lifestyle: weight management, reduced risk of disease, and the ability to keep up with our kids or grandchildren, to name a few.
Despite knowing the benefits of getting out of our chairs or peeling ourselves off the couch away from the TV, getting into a new fitness routine can be challenging. If you have ever started with good intentions but lost momentum, rest assured you are not alone.
With that said, we think we can help and wanted to offer up a few strategies to make fitness fun and achievable, plus "rig the game" in our favor, so we stay active in the long run.
Looking to start a new fitness routine? Try these four tips to help you create long-lasting healthy habits:
Start Small. If you are getting active after a long hiatus, the best thing you can do is ease yourself into your new routine. We encourage you to set the bar low and start with simple actions that make exercise all too easy to accomplish on a regular basis. For some, a short walk during the day and a 5-minute stretching session are great places to start. For the more seasoned mover, perhaps beginning with a 30-minute training session or group class at the local gym is the right call. Regardless of where you are starting, make your habits achievable and realistic based on your current fitness level, and then add a bit of patience to the equation. The sum of these small positive actions will add up in the long run!
Focus on one habit at a time. If you have written down a few health and wellness goals, that is a great first step. The next thing we are going to recommend is to focus on the one habit that will bring you closer to those goals. What we have noticed is that early success in a fitness routine may cause us to bite off a bit more than we can chew. So, instead of stacking multiple healthy habits all at once (i.e., walk and stretch daily, workout three times per week, etc.), focus on the one habit that will have the most significant impact on all of our goals. Then aim to stick with that habit for 21 to 30 days before adding more. Resist the temptation to do more as more is not better... better is better.
Use your calendar. When starting a new fitness routine, the next thing to do is block off time in your calendar. This will keep your "fitness appointments" visible and help make them a priority when life gets busy. It can also be very satisfying when you look back at all the workouts you have done. Whether you prefer a good ol' fashioned agenda or a digital option, rest assured that the technology is not important. The act of prioritizing time for ourselves is what matters most.
Add some buffer. The road to improved health and fitness is not a straight path, so be mentally prepared for the ups and downs. Instead of thinking about your fitness routine in the context of "all or nothing," we encourage you to think of it in terms of "always something." There will be times when life will get in the way, and we need to take a day off or two. That is okay! Maybe we can benefit from focusing on our recovery or nutrition habits in these instances. There will also be days when you get home late from work or a family event, and all you have the energy for is a short core routine or stretch session. That is great! The beauty of adding some buffer into our fitness plan is we continue to make forward progress regardless of the obstacle.
There are many things that contribute to a successful fitness routine and these tips are simply a starting point and we encourage you to find the habits that work best for you. Something that works initially, may not work forever so be open to making adjustments to stay motivated about your health and wellness!
- The LIFT session Team
LIFT session is a digital fitness and wellness platform, focused on helping companies build a more active and engaged workforce. Learn more at https://www.fseap.ca/worklife-supports