5 TOP TIPS FOR GETTING ACTIVE BY BRAINPARK
1. Reflect on your WHY
Before you determine what exercise to do, start by identifying your WHY. Knowing your WHY is knowing your purpose, your goals and ambitions. The relationship you have with physical activity can be far more meaningful than simply how often you are active. For example, exercising to be a role model for your family, to improve your mood and cope better with stress, or to live life with more physical and mental vitality.
Reflect on it regularly, write it down or find an image that depicts it as a daily inspiration and reminder. Your WHY can then help motivate you to overcome common barriers to exercise.
2. Reflect on your WHAT
When starting out on your journey to an active lifestyle, it’s critical to choose activities that are sustainable. The number one priority in selecting what exercise to do, is selecting something you can do regularly – and enjoy doing. This may mean a combination of activities. So, think about what exercise-ingredients have worked, or not worked, for you in the past. For example, you may not love exercise, but love socialising – so try pairing social time with exercise, like walking with a friend or starting a jogging challenge with your neighbour.
3. Make small, easy changes
You are far more likely to start exercising regularly when what you do is easy to fit into your existing lifestyle, rather than changing too much too soon. Once started, you can then slowly grow and refine your activity over the long term. For example, gradually increasing your exercise frequency over a period of months is a far more sustainable and rewarding approach than going from 0 days per week to 7 days – then quitting because you were unable to sustain that frequency.
4. Be patient
Play the long game. Aim for consistency, not perfection. Exercising “imperfectly” for decades is FAR BETTER than exercising “perfectly” for a few weeks. The value to your health by exercising regularly is far greater than extreme exercise bouts infrequently. So, if the choice is between going for a 30-minute walk after dinner weeknights or doing a heavy gym session once a year – choose walking!
5. Embrace adaptability
Too tired, too cold, too hot, not enough time? There will always be reasons not to exercise. When we have a pre-prepared plan in place to navigate these barriers, rather than try and change tack in the moment, we are far more likely to stay active. So, take a moment to create, and then reflect on, your ‘if- then’ plans’.
Examples: If I’m tired, then I will go for a walk instead of a jog (i.e. exercise at a lower intensity, or reduced time).
If it’s raining and my outdoor soccer match is cancelled, then I will do a yoga class instead (i.e. change your exercise environment to suit the weather).
If I am time-poor, then I will pick a 15-minutes online training session, instead of a 30-minutes one (i.e. commit to a time that suits your availability, rather than cancelling all together).
Creating health habits: Getting active and staying active written by Sam Hughes.
Sam is a Senior Exercise Physiologist at BrainPark, Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, Monash University.
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