Well it’s that time of year again. “New Year New You”. Exercise is now on many people’s agenda as a way of dealing with the festive excess. So here are a few of my tips to help you get going and keep going.
Did you know…?
Being active has lots of benefits. Research has also shown that physical activity can boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy. When you’re active, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body, so the feeling that follows a run or other exercise is often described as “euphoric” or “a high”. People who are active also tend to have a more positive and energising outlook on life.
Exercising regularly also helps to lower the risk of developing long-term (chronic) conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
MoreLife’s Top Ten Handy Hints for Getting Active
Guilt free – Firstly, it’s been Christmas, it’s normal to enjoy this time of the year with family and friends. So don’t feel bad, just see it for what it is, something normal people do. We at MoreLife believe guilt is a terrible way to start off a new plan, we feel it’s better to focus on what you can gain – that’s why we are called MoreLife.
More Life – January is a great time to think about being more active and healthy. Leading an active lifestyle is brilliant, there are so many benefits and rewards to be had. So well done for thinking about it. The next step is doing something about it.
Why? So we agree on the benefits of being active, but what’s your “why”? What’s the reason you want to become more active? Your ‘why’ is important as it’s the reason you will keep going during the times when it gets tough.
Power from within – I’ve found having a ‘why’ is really important, but having the right ‘why’ is critical.
We all know motivation is important but the right type of motivation increases your chances of success. There are two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic motivation as it sounds comes from within us. So being active to: feel better about ourself, to develop a new skill, to achieve a lifetime goal, or for the pleasure of being active, are the best forms of intrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation is as it sounds external, including: looking better, to prove someone wrong, the numbers on the scale, looking good in an outfit for others. These forms are helpful but usually only in the short term.
Remember getting active and realising its benefits is a long term goal. Don’t rush it and don’t put yourself under pressure. Too much pressure means some people have given up within a week! When you decide on your ‘why’ make sure it’s of the intrinsic kind.
Positive Triggers – Once you have your ‘why,’ write it down, make it into a phrase that you say every day when you wake up. This will be a positive trigger to start your day, even on those days you won’t think that you have time or don’t feel well, it will be a trigger to remind you to keep on track.
It all counts – Whilst you might have heard that one exercise or activity is better than another, the most important thing to recognise is that the best activity is the one you are most likely to keep doing. It’s maybe just going for a walk, cycling to work, going to a class, swimming, or joining a netball team. All activity is valuable but some are easier to stick to than others. For me cycling to work gets me some exercise a couple of times a week, then running also fits for me as I don’t have as much time as I’d like. I don’t like the gym and my life isn’t consistent enough for me to be in a weekly class. There is never a perfect activity or exercise plan, remember the Nike catchphrase “just do it”
Fail to plan and you are planning to fail – So how do we do it? The new year is a great time to start. But remember over 90% of people will break their New Year’s resolution within the month of January. Making a plan is critical to getting off to a good start, I’d recommend using SMART goals:
Specific – be clear on what you are going to do, fuzzy goals are not very helpful.
Measurable – keep a record or journal, there are loads of apps to use.
Achievable – remember unrealistic goals can be a major set back. Small steps are the key to long term behaviour change, so focus on achievable goals and get lots of quick wins.
Relevant – make sure your goals are relevant to what you are trying to achieve.
Time-bound – Set a time limit, we often think about longer term goals (this year/ 5 years) as well as shorter term (this week). But give yourself timelines.
Spend a bit of time planning this out, reflecting on times when achieving your goals are more likely and anticipating bumps in the road.
Be kind to yourself – I also find an additional element is that goals are not forgiving. Whilst it’s important to set goals, the more rigid they are the more likely you are to feel guilty if you don’t achieve your goals. Remember to be kind to yourself. This isn’t a ‘get out of jail free card’, on the contrary it’s a “life happens” and in the early days of a new habit it’s harder to make them stick. If you push through against all odds eventually you will falter whereas if you are kind to yourself you are more likely to get back to your plans when these mini barriers are out of the way. You will be surprised what a bit of self compassion will do.
Make a public statement – Another thing you can do is make a commitment to others about what you want to do and why you’re doing it. There is plenty of evidence that making public commitments drives us to stick to our goals. Maybe set your goals on facebook or Instagram and log your progress.
Brilliant buddies – we all need a bit of help so why not get a workout buddy, they could be online too. A partner, family member, friend or someone on social media, whatever works best for you. Make joint commitments and you will be surprised at how you and your buddy/s can help each other.
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