It can be hard to get yourself off the sofa during the holiday season, particularly when the weather is cold and the telly is inviting. Here are some top tips to get yourself active. These tips help you choose and stick with resolutions you might be making to get yourself active.
Think about the thing you want to do
E.g. learn to swim, start running, go rambling on weekends, cycle to work, do yoga. Think hard and choose something that you really want to do, rather than something you feel you should do, or even someone else wants you to do. It’s important that you feel this will add value to your life e.g. it might help you make friends in a new city, it might help you manage your stress better than you are at the moment, it might even help you lose some weight. You might just want to be able to swim in the sea when you go on summer holidays.
I am going to start running
Consider all the reasons you want to do that particular activity
I want to lose weight
my mum is a runner and I want to join her for a run when I visit on weekends
I just feel very unfit
I want to do that Parkrun thing which all my friends have started doing
I know it will help sort my head out
It doesn’t matter what your particular reasons are, what’s important is that the reasons are your reasons, that they mean something to you, and will remind you why you want to do that thing when you are feeling low or unmotivated.
Now write the activity, and your reasons down on paper
And stick it somewhere you will see it frequently e.g. bathroom cabinet mirror, front of your diary; you could take a photo of the note and put the photo as your screensaver.
Think about what might get in the way
This is crucial as there is no point in saying to yourself I will get up every morning at 6am to do yoga, if you have a young baby and are up half the night anyway. Think about the support you might need e.g. is it okay with your boss if you take extra time at your lunch break to do a class if you stay an extra 15 minutes at the end of the day. Perhaps it’s about getting baby-sitting once per week so you can join a local netball team. Look for solutions to potential barriers. Make sure at the outset that the activity is do-able.
Schedule your activity into your diary
This is a must. If you schedule activity like you schedule your work meetings, you are far more likely to achieve the activity. It’s common sense but plays out in research. We know from all the work that is carried out around goal setting that when setting SMART* goals we need to be able to fit that goal into our diary; we have to schedule it. Choose your days – this can be once a week, 3 times per week, whatever works. Some people like to start out doing something 5 days per week, others like to try with maybe 2 times per week and once they have achieved that then they move to 3 times per week. It really depends on you, and what works for you. Just make sure it’s in the calendar on your phone, your computer, or your Filofax – that’s me – I am very old school.
30 minutes run 6:30 – 7:00 before work Mon, Wed, Fri
Prepare to succeed
What this means is looking to whatever you need for your activity and setting yourself up to achieve. If you need a new swimsuit to get you back in the pool, go ahead and order one. If your headphones are broken and you can’t run unless you have a great playlist, then get some headphones, and sort out a playlist. You want to be looking forward to your activity.
You have now identified the activity you are going to do. You know and have recorded why this activity is important. You have considered what might get in the way, and how to get over those barriers. Your activity has been scheduled and you have exactly what you need. You are ready to GET ACTIVE IN 2020.
*SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable but Ambitious, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
Specific: I am going to run for 30 minutes 3 times per week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Measurable: I will use an habit tracking app or notebook to tick off when I complete the runs
Achievable: I know have the time available to do this as working from home gives me flexibility on commute times and taking breaks when I want
Ambitious: This is an ambitious target but I tend to very disciplined and once I set a goal, I know I will make the necessary efforts
Realistic: It is realistic that I of for a running target. I already walk 10k steps per day so moving towards running is perfectly reasonable
Time-Bound: I will use a programme such as Couch to 5K to help keep me motivated but also working towards hitting the 3 times per week programme. Once I have achieved 5k of running 3 times per week I will decide if I want to progress further or am quite happy running at that level.
Problems getting started and want some support with your lifestyle medicine? Get in touch.