One of the greatest challenges when becoming physically active is staying active. Here are some tips for making physical activity an enjoyable, habitual part of your life.
Think short-term AND long-term. If your long-term goal is to walk 1 mile, then make your short-term goal smaller. How about walking a quarter mile during the first week? Similarly, if one of your long-term goals is to lose 15 pounds, focus first on a more immediate goal (i.e., losing 1–2 pounds the first week). By setting smaller goals within your bigger ones, you’re less likely to push yourself too hard. Just as important, you give yourself a chance to succeed —over and over.
Share your activity goals with others. Encouragement from family and friends can help motivate you to stay active. Let others know your short-term goals as well as your long-term ones so they can regularly cheer you on. And who knows, you may be able to persuade family or friends to join in!
Variety. Enjoy many different activities to move different muscles. For example, you could enjoy walking for your heart and leg muscles, gardening for arm muscles, and sit-ups for abdominal muscles.
Balance. Because different activities have different benefits, balance your physical activity pattern. For overall fitness, choose activities that build cardiovascular endurance (aerobic activities), muscular strength, bone strength, and flexibility.
Help yourself remember. Make a “personal activity checklist” and stick it on the fridge or another spot where you’ll see it daily.
Recall your original reasons for getting fit. Why did you decide to start your activity program in the first place? Do these reasons still apply, or are others now more important? Taking a look at your original goals and desires can help to rev up your motivation, or allow you to pinpoint where to make changes. If you find that you’re no longer enjoying a particular activity, consider trying out a new one.