How to get moving

The only way for an inactive, (or previously active person), to adopt a new behaviour, such as becoming active (again) - is to change. Changing any behaviour requires time and effort and commitment, and generally involves moving through about five different stages. Into which stage do you fit, and what are you doing about moving into the next stage?

Stage 1: Not ready for change

These individuals have no desire to change their inactive ways. Hopefully, this no longer describes you; you are ready to make a change in the next few months, which means you have progressed to stage 2.

Stage 2: Contemplation

Whilst the idea of becoming fit and healthy is very exciting, there will be challenges along the way. So be prepared and optimise your chances of long-term success by implementing these 3 tips:

  1. Prepare a comprehensive list of reasons reinforcing why you want to be active; keep them handy in case you start doubting your motives.
  2. Write down disruptions or barriers that could arise (e.g. holidays, visitors, low energy levels, bad weather).
  3. Prepare a list of solutions for each barrier/disruption listed (e.g. alternative physical activities which include family/friends, home exercise videos, rainy weather gear etc).

Stage 3: Preparing for Action

You’re now ready for action, but perhaps you’ll need your doctor’s consent if you. Do the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PARQ) to assess whether you need medical consent. Realise that moderate exercise involves minimal health risks for people in good health or those following a doctor’s advice. Far greater risks are presented by inactivity and obesity

Here are a few more tips at this stage:

  1. Prioritise exercise in your life; see it as something that you simply can’t do without.
  2. Choose physical activity that suits your personality, you’re more likely to enjoy it and stick to it (outdoor person - walking/hiking).
  3. Make sure your exercise option is accessible and affordable.
  4. Decide what is the best time of day to exercise (morning, lunch-time or evening).
  5. Get support from at least 2 people close to you - perhaps get a partner with whom to train.
  6. Get the necessary garb (sports shoes etc) and sort out the logistics of your sessions.

Stage 4: Taking action - the first 6 months

Fifty percent of people who start an exercise programme drop out in the first 6 months, so this is the crucial testing time. However, the positive benefits you are deriving from exercise should keep you focused and on track and here are a few tips.

  1. Double your chances of success by joining a group or programme.
  2. Be disciplined and patient, especially in the first few weeks, until good habits are well established and you start seeing results.
  3. Put “exercise appointments” in your diary.
  4. Set small, achievable and measurable goals every month.
  5. Keep track of your progress. Start a logbook where you record each session’s activity as well as a weekly/monthly record of for example your waist and hip measurements, blood pressure and weight.
  6. Reward yourself when you reach a goal (a massage, some time out etc.).

Stage 5: Maintenance Stage

By this time, regular exercise is integrated into your lifestyle. Research shows that people who have exercised for longer than 6 months, are much more likely to succeed long-term, but just make sure that you stay aware and don’t become over-confident about your success, or otherwise you might slip-up.

  1. Add variety to your exercise programme to avoid boredom.
  2. Develop a long-term plan- what is your exercise mission (health, fitness, an event)?
  3. Keep seeing exercise as a major priority in your life and keep rewarding yourself when you realise new goals.
  4. Remember that ANY exercise is better than none at all, so use those 10 spare minutes, climb that flight of stairs - every step counts.
  5. HAVE FUN with activity - it is well worth the investment!
10 September 2020

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