Fitness: Getting and Staying Active (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Turning physical activity into a habit
Most people don't think about being active or inactive as a habit. But it is. And habits are affected by many things, including our work schedule, our home life, and our social life. When something becomes a habit, we don't think about it much—we just do it, like brushing our teeth.
And when something becomes a habit, it can be hard to change. That's what makes changing unhealthy habits into healthy ones so hard. Starting new, healthy habits takes practice and patience. But you can do it if you take one small step at a time.
Experts say that it takes about 3 months of repetition to form a habit. For some people, even 3 months isn't enough. So start small, and keep doing it until you no longer think about it as something "extra" that you have to do. When you slip up, don't get mad at yourself or feel guilty. Figure out what happened and how to keep it from happening again. Get right back into your physical activity routine, and don't look back.
Maintaining the lifestyle
Many of the good things about being active, such as having more energy and being in a better mood, happen soon after you become more active. But some of the most important health benefits have to do with being active over many years. If you stop being active, you lose the fitness you achieved. Being consistent makes the most sense for your health.
To help make physical activity a long-term commitment:
Establishing a routine
When you have decided that you want to get fit, you will want to plan a physical activity routine. Although most people think of classes and specific activities (such as jogging or tennis) as the way to fitness, there are many ways you can work physical activity into your life.
Fitness classes or groups provide a consistent approach to an activity. Local gyms, schools, and churches may sponsor a regular fitness group. Teams also provide a consistent approach to fitness but are more competitive. Many communities have physical activity programs to help adults and children get fit. They often are found within social agencies and schools.
Structured fitness has the advantage of:
Many people find an activity they enjoy, and then they create their own fitness program. Self-directed fitness gives you:
For this to be effective, you must set up a regular schedule and stay with it.
Fitness within your day
You can use "everyday" activities for fitness, as long as you do them regularly. This includes:
Prepare for slip-ups
It's perfectly normal to try to change a habit, go along fine for a while, and then have a setback. Lots of people try and try again before they reach their goals.
What are the things that might cause a setback for you? If you have tried to make changes in your activity level before, think about what helped you and what got in your way.
By thinking about these barriers now, you can plan ahead for how to deal with them if they happen.
Here's one person's list of barriers to taking a brisk 30-minute walk every day, along with some possible solutions:
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