Getting active and staying active

It’s good to be active

No matter what stage of life you’re at, everyone can benefit from being active, and it doesn’t have to be strenuous to be good for you!

All it takes is 30 minutes a day to feel better and live longer.

Even 10 minutes of activity three times a day can mean:

  • less stress
  • more energy
  • better concentration
  • better sleep
  • healthier bones and muscles

It can also mean less chance of developing heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Now that’s an investment!

And if you can, there are even greater benefits from including some more vigorous physical activity into your week.

Remember physical activity and healthy eating go hand in hand, so if you want to lose weight then a healthy diet is absolutely essential.

Get started

Most of us can get started straight away.

At the beginning, take it gently so your body gets used to moving again.

The more we do though, the easier it gets. We can always put more effort in as our bodies get stronger… and this doesn’t take long. 

Walking is a great way to get started and it's an easy and fun way to get our 30 minutes of physical activity per day.

However, if you haven’t been active for a while, if you are over 50 or if you have any medical issue that you are concerned about, check with your doctor first.

Getting into the habit

No matter what kind of activity we do, making physical activity a daily habit is the key to success. It is important to sit less and move more

It might seem hard at first, so here are some tips to help you to get on your way:

  • be determined to follow the routine, that way you’re more likely to continue
  • give it time to develop… because the more we do it the more automatic it becomes
  • make a plan – this can help keep you on track with your activity goals when other things get in the way
  • consider setting the same time each day to be active - so it becomes part of your routine
  • encourage family or friends to join in, or sign up with a group to keep you motivated, on track with your goals and help establish a good pattern
  • participate in activities you like and enjoy
  • keep it varied to stay motivated and interested. It doesn't matter what we do, as long as it adds up to 30 minutes of activity
  • increase the intensity (like jogging, aerobics, dancing and fast paced sports) or increase the duration (about 60 to 90 minutes or greater) brings even greater benefits, if you want to lose weight

How to be active regularly

Start out slowly and safely

  • warm up with some light walking to help your body get used to the activity
  • start slowly and build up over weeks not days
  • take some time after your activity to do some stretching of the muscles you’ve used. This will help avoid muscle soreness
  • if you are worried about a health condition or pain you already have, you should talk to your doctor about the activity you are planning
  • wear loose comfortable clothes and supportive shoes
  • wear a hat and sunscreen if you are outside in the sun during the day.

Choose the right time

If you are too tired when you get home at night, try going for a walk at lunchtime instead. Or if you are free in the evenings, find out what activities are available locally.

Make small changes to your daily routine, for example walking part way or using the stairs.

Find activities that suit you

Being more active can simply be a matter of spending more time on the things you already like doing, such as:

  • gardening
  • taking the dog for a walk
  • join a local sport, recreation or fitness club
  • meet a friend for a walk or a bike ride
  • park the car and walk the rest of the way
  • take the stairs instead of a lift or escalator
  • walk with a friend for half an hour before going for a coffee
  • get back to a sport or activity that you used to enjoy.

If you find something you enjoy, you’re more likely to keep it up.

Setting goals for good health

Thinking about why we want to be more active will help in setting and sticking to our goals. The more important the goal is to us the more likely we will try to reach it.

  • Make your goal realistic - so that they can be achieved. You can always increase your goals later.
    For example, set the goal of going for a walk three times a week. Even if you only walk for 10 minutes each time you have met your goal. Next week you could increase that to 15 minutes.
  • Write down your goals - start with small goals as they are easier to reach but they all add up and they are a great way to head towards being more active.
  • Use positive thoughts and feelings - we know that physical activity improves mood but sometimes it’s hard to get into the mood. Positive self-talk and focussing on the benefits helps get us going and the more we do something the easier it becomes
  • Reward yourself! - when you reach one of your goals go ahead and treat yourself to something that you enjoy like going to a movie, having a sleep-in, buying something new for yourself or your home.

Following these ideas will help you get started:

Ask yourself, “How important is it to be more active?” (On a scale of 1 for ‘not very’ to 10 for ‘extremely’).

The more we value the benefits of a healthy lifestyle the more likely we are to embrace it.

Now ask yourself, “What will I gain? Is it worth the effort? What might happen if I do nothing?”

Think about what you're missing out on and how much better you could feel now and years down the track.

Dealing with setbacks

Once you start being active on a regular basis you may find that something comes up to interrupt your routine. That’s OK. The key is to treat these setbacks as temporary and to get going as soon as you can.

When facing setbacks it might help to:

  • review the times that you are being active – are they working for you or should you change the time of the day you do your activity?
  • try a new activity if you are battling with boredom
  • set some new short-term goals if your routine has been broken
  • plan for active weekends or holiday breaks to do more of the activities that you enjoy or try different things like walking and exploring new places
  • call a friend with similar interests and motivate each other.

Share your story or discover what others are doing to be active and eat well – you too can be part of the inspiration.

How about downloading the “Getting Started” booklet for some great ideas on getting active?