How to Be More Active
How to be more active
Some people seem better able to stick to their activity goal and plan more so than others. Is that because those people have more willpower than others? No. We all have a very limited amount of willpower that gets used up fast. The reason some people may be able to stick with new healthy behaviors more so than others is because they have techniques that help them accomplish things without using willpower.
First, choose something you like to do that leaves you feeling good about yourself. For example, if you hate the gym or feel clumsy doing Zumba, those are probably not good activities for you. Maybe an exercise video at home or water aerobics would be a better fit.
Next, be realistic with yourself about what you can do and when you can do it. It may actually be better to set a lower expectation for yourself, like walking for 15 min at lunch three times a week, than aiming big with the idea that you’ll get to the gym for 1 hour five times a week before work. You’re more likely to succeed if you start small and work your way up.
One thing that helps many people stick with their activity goals is to team up with a buddy or group of people who have the same goal. If you’re going to walk during lunch at work, find a buddy or a group to do it with every day and make a commitment to each other. If you know people are counting on you to help them achieve their goals, you’ll be more likely to show up and achieve your own goals.
And whatever your specific plan is for doing physical activity, it’s key to actually write it down. Schedule it like an appointment and put in your calendar the specific days and times you’ll use it.
Tips for staying active every day
Small steps can help you stay active every day. Check off the ideas you want to try. Then try them! See how it goes.
Walk when you can
- At work, stretch and move around every 30 minutes
- Get off the bus or train a stop early and walk
- Go for a 30 minute walk instead of watching TV
- Go up hills instead of around them
- Make a Saturday morning walk a habit
- Park farther from the store and walk
- Replace a Sunday drive with a Sunday walk
- Take a walk after dinner
- Take a walk during your work breaks
- Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
- Take your dog on longer walks
- Walk briskly in the mall
- Walk to the store
- Walk your children to school
Move more at home
- Fix things around your home
- Mow your lawn with a push mower
- Paint your home
- Rake your lawn
- Shovel snow
- Sweep, mop, or vacuum your floor
- Wash your car by hand
- Avoid devices that do work for you, such as electric mixers
- Choose activities that you enjoy and that fit into your daily life
- Dance to music – alone, or with someone else
- Give yourself a small, non-food reward for meeting your fitness goals
- If you go to children’s sporting events, walk around instead of sitting still
- Join a walking or hiking group
- Lift weights or use resistance bands while you watch TV or videos
- March in place while you watch TV
- Play tag, frisbee, or soccer with your kids or grandkids
- Try new physical activities
- Use a fitness app for your phone or computer
- Use a fitness video
Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN
on June 30, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.