The report, published in the Lancet to coincide with the Olympics, estimates that one out of three adults fails to do the recommended dose of 150-minutes physical activity per week.
In the UK, USA, Australia and NZ, we’re especially sedentary with two out of three adults falling short.
The study claims our couch potato lifestyle is now so dire it should be treated as a pandemic.
Trouble is ….We all know we should move more and sit less.
We just don’t do it.
So, how does one incorporate the recommended dose of physical activity?
Here are six strategies for transforming your hit-and-miss exercise regime into a (mostly) daily habit.
i. Find activities you love.
If you think physical activity is limited to sweating-it-out on at the gym or pounding the pavement, you’ll benefit from being more creative.
Aim for discovering a variety of activities you enjoy so there’s always something you can do regardless of weather or time of day.
Look about you – there’s plenty to choose from. Be one with nature: walk your woofer, garden vigorously, mow your lawn.
If you feel unsafe out-and-about in your neighbourhood, stay indoors, turn up your stereo and dance your butt off.
Do whatever (yup, whatever) gets your heart pumping.
ii. Make it a priority.
Your activity time (30 minutes x 5 times per week = 150 minutes) must become non-negotiable.
If you don’t make this your intention, there’ll always be something that’ll rob you of your time.
Another way to look at it is – if you don’t make time for health, you’ll need to take time to be unwell.
You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete. Taking time to exercise your body is basic body care.
Another advantage to making activity time non-negotiable is that friends, family and colleagues see it’s part of your identity, and will support you. When you treat it as non-negotiable, so will they.
iii. Do it even when especially when you’re “too tired.”
We’ve all been there.You’ve had a long day, you’re hungry and tired, and you don’t feel like exercising today.
That’s exactly when you DO need to exercise.
Put your kit on, quit analysing how you feel, and JFDI.
When the exercise-induced euphoria kicks in, you’ll be pleased you did.
As a marathon runner, there are times when I “don’t feel like it” too. Often the hardest kilometre is getting out the front door.
But I’m always pleased I did. ALWAYS.
iv. Get a buddy
If you find getting off the couch difficult, commit to another person.
Adding the social aspect to exercising can really boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
“I’ll let myself off the hook, but if I’ve agreed to walk with a friend after work, I’ll never let them down,” as one former couch potato puts it.
v. Start small
Attempting to walk 20 kilometres on your first outing is a great way to scare yourself back to the couch.
For the first couple of weeks, take tiddler steps by exercising below your capacity. This way it’ll feel easy (we humans love easy!) and the habit will build on it’s own momentum.
If you haven’t exercised for awhile, walking 10 minutes, three times per day will give you your 30 minutes. Do that five times per week, et voila, you have your 150 minutes.
vi. Bribe yourself
Do you tell yourself that once you can zip your jeans without lying on the bed, that’ll be reward enough?
Not very inspiring, is it?!
Nothing makes changing our behaviours easier than bribery. You might buy yourself a specific album after you stick to your fitness plan for a month, or buy new shoes when you achieve 5,000 steps a day.
Do whatever works for you.
So there you go. Six strategies for leveraging yourself off the couch and into the habits of a healthier, energised, inspired new you.
Start today and you’ll be on Day 7 of your programme by the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. Just imagine!
Love etc, Avril