Getting and keeping active is good for your health, it can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight and can also help reduce stress (which has been shown to reduce the chances of becoming pregnant). The recommendation for health is to be active for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week. If you’re a long way from this at the moment don’t fear, there are lots of ways you can build activity into your everyday life without needing to don the lycra and hit the local gym (unless you want to that is!).
Taking the first step towards exercise is just the start – the rewards come from staying with it.
The benefits of activity can’t be saved up and stored away so the key to success is to keep on doing it! This means making lasting changes to your routine. If you’ve started to build more activity into your life, you may have had days when your motivation dropped. It’s not so much that activity doesn’t feel good but sometimes there seems to be so many other important things to do. And let’s face it, some days you just want to collapse in an armchair and take it easy. Before you even notice it, you haven’t exercised for several days and you feel things are slipping away.
As with any new skill, there are techniques to help you keep up your activity levels. The key is to build up your activity level so it becomes a habit. There’s an added bonus: those who develop the habit of an active lifestyle often find it easier to maintain other healthy habits such as eating healthily.
Take a read through our hints and tips to see which could help you take that next step along the activity pathway:
- make it purposeful – it’s hard to commit to an activity if it feels pointless. Link exercise to meaningful activities like walking the dog, cycling to work, gardening.
- start small – plan to walk for five minutes or get off the bus one stop earlier. Once you begin to move it will feel so good you’re likely to keep extending the time you do it.
- be flexible – yes, regular exercise is important, but schedule it in a flexible way so that you use whatever time is available to you. If you have only five minutes, do a short walk or some stretches (it’s good to get up and out of your chair!). If you have 45 minutes at lunch, grab a sandwich and then walk around your building a few times.
- make it fun - do something you enjoy. When the experience is satisfying, you don’t need any other motivation.
- exercise with others – you’re more likely to enjoy it and stick with it if you team up with someone else.
- commit to a long-term plan – the real benefits will play out over a lifetime.
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