Introduction: Why Physical Activity Matters
Physical activity is a key component of leading a healthy lifestyle. It has many physical, emotional, and mental health benefits. Exercising regularly not only helps to improve your fitness levels, but can help reduce stress, improve mood, boost energy levels, promote better sleep, and strengthen cognitive functioning.
Unfortunately, many people struggle to fit physical activity into their day due to various challenges and barriers. Perhaps the most common barrier is simply not making enough time for physical activity. Other obstacles include lack of access to equipment or facilities, competing priorities, financial restrictions, or physical limitations.
However, there are ways to overcome such barriers and incorporate more physical activity into your day. This article will outline various strategies that can help, from time-based strategies to mental and emotional health benefits to community involvement.
Identify Barriers to Exercise
We all have our own challenges and barriers when it comes to incorporating physical activity into our day. It can be challenging to find the time and motivation to exercise when there are so many other responsibilities competing for our attention. Here are some common barriers and tips for overcoming them:
- Lack of Time: Finding the time to exercise can be difficult, especially when you have a busy schedule. Try setting aside just a few minutes each day to move your body and build up from there. You can also look for ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily tasks, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking to do errands.
- Lack of Motivation: When you don’t feel like exercising it can be hard to stay motivated. Remind yourself of the benefits of physical activity and try setting small achievable goals. You can also find a workout buddy who can help push you to stay on track.
- Lack of Confidence: If you feel intimidated by the gym or the thought of joining an exercise class, start by setting yourself up for success. You can do this by finding an activity that you enjoy and that fits your lifestyle. You can also look for support groups or even online resources that will help boost your confidence.
Many people don’t have a lot of extra time in the day to dedicate to physical activity. However, there are ways to layer physical activity into your everyday tasks. Taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a simple way to incorporate more movement into your day. You can also try walking or biking to the store when running errands or even pacing while you talk on the phone. It may not seem like much, but these small opportunities for physical activity can add up over time.
Set Goals and Track Progress
Making physical activity part of your daily routine is easy. The key is to set realistic goals and track your progress. You don’t have to become a fitness guru overnight, but aim to move more than you did in the past. Start by writing down your goals and creating a plan for how to achieve them.
First, consider what types of activities you enjoy. Are you a morning person or do you feel energized in the evening? Do you prefer running or swimming? Once you identify your preferences, make a schedule that works for you. For example, if you like mornings, decide when and how often you can work out in the morning.
In addition to thinking about what activities you enjoy, set realistic goals. It’s important to make sure that your goals are achievable. If you set a goal that is too ambitious, you’re likely to give up when you don’t see results. On the other hand, setting manageable goals can help keep you motivated and you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Finally, track your progress. Keeping track of how much you’ve done each day helps to provide incentive and allows you to look back and reflect on your accomplishments. You can use online tracking tools or apps to store your activity information, or write it down in a journal or notebook.
By setting achievable goals and recording your progress, adding more physical activity to your day can be simple and fun!
Mental Health Benefits of Physical Activity
Physical activity does more than just benefit your body. It has powerful effects on the mind, too! Regular exercise helps to improve mood, reduce stress, and can even increase self-esteem.
Exercise releases hormones that help to boost feelings of wellbeing. Even a single workout session can leave you feeling better, with improved focus and alertness. Plus, the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a workout can help to give you a confidence boost.
Physical activity is also a great way to relax after a long day. A brisk walk outdoors in the sunshine or a Yoga class can be just the thing to reduce tension and promote a more positive mindset.
Finally, exercise can help to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and can even help protect against future mental health issues. This is why it’s essential to integrate physical activity into your daily routine.
Physical activity doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor. There are plenty of group activities that can encourage physical activity while also providing opportunities for social connection and support. Consider joining a team sport such as football, soccer, or basketball—all great ways to stay active and make friends. Or try a group exercise class such as yoga or Zumba, which can help motivate you to stay on track with your physical activity goals. And if the pandemic has limited your access to group activities, there are still plenty of virtual options available, such as online fitness classes or even just video chats with friends, where you can check in and stay accountable.
Finding activities that match your interests and goals can help keep you motivated. You may even consider recruiting family or friends to join you in working toward your physical activity goals. Going out for a walk or jog with a friend, for example, can be a great way to get your heart rate up while enjoying some quality time with someone you care about.
Nutrition and Physical Activity
A balanced diet is essential for achieving maximum physical activity benefits. Eating a variety of healthy food types, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, provides the necessary energy your body needs to stay active throughout the day. In addition to providing energy, getting the right amount of nutrition can also improve your performance during physical activity.
Making sure your meals (and snacks) are high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals can help build muscles, replenish energy stores, and keep bones strong – all of which help to support physical activity. If you’re unsure of where to get started with nutrition plans for physical activity, speaking to a health or nutrition professional may be beneficial.
Incorporating Movement Into the Workplace
Adding physical activity into your workday doesn’t have to be a challenge. There are lots of simple and creative ways to get moving throughout the day—and even promote change in your workplace!
One easy way to add physical activity into your workday is by taking walking breaks. Taking a few minutes during the day to go for a stroll around the block can help you relax, refresh, and get your blood flowing without taking up too much of your working time.
You might also want to consider advocating for public gym memberships at your office. Many gyms offer corporate discounts or free trial memberships, which can be a great way for employees to stay fit while on the clock.
Finally, ergonomic furniture can help encourage physical activity while working. Ergonomic chairs that allow for swiveling and moving can help take the strain off of a person’s back muscles and joints while they’re sitting for long periods of time. Standing desks or adjustable height desks are another option that can help make it easier to move while you work.
Creating An Exercise Plan
Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s crucial to create an exercise plan that works for you and your lifestyle in order to get the most benefit out of every session. A well-rounded plan should include various forms of exercise to target different areas of the body. For example, cardiovascular activities like running or swimming can help to improve your overall fitness levels, while strength training activities will help to build muscle and improve bone density.
It’s important to find activities that work for you and your goals. If you’re unsure where to start, try out a few different options and see what you like. Walking, cycling, swimming, weightlifting, yoga, and other sports are all great options. Variety in your routine will help to keep you motivated and improve the breadth of your fitness.
The key to success with any exercise plan is consistency. Creating a schedule that works for you can help to keep you on track. Keep in mind that you don’t have to dedicate hours to exercise in order to reap its benefits – even just a few minutes per day can make a difference. If you’re stuck in a rut or need a bit of motivation, try asking a friend or family member to join you.
Creating an exercise plan comes with lots of potential benefits. Not only will you be able to track your progress, but you’ll also be working towards improved physical health, better mental wellbeing, and increased energy levels. With just a little bit of effort each day, you’ll be on your way to a healthier lifestyle!
Making Exercise Fun
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring and monotonous. To make physical activity more enjoyable, try incorporating unique activities or tools into your routine that are both dynamic and engaging.
You can switch up your regular exercise routine by trying out a new sport, like rock-climbing or stand up paddling. Or take a jog or walk in a nature reserve to get closer to the outdoors.
If you need a bit of extra motivation and inspiration, try downloading apps on your phone that track how far you run or how many calories you’ve burned. These apps often feature rewards or points to encourage users to keep moving.
Perhaps the most fun way to make exercise more enjoyable is to share it with others. Have a friend join you for a game of basketball, meet up with family for a round of mini-golf, or invite colleagues for regular yoga classes. It’s always more enjoyable and rewarding when you can share your victories with others.
Supplement Your Exercise Routine
Adding a few small accessories to your exercise routine can help supplement your efforts to get more physical activity into your day. Pedometers and fitness trackers are a great way to track and stay on top of your goals, while exercise equipment can provide additional challenge and variety.
Pedometers are small devices that are clipped onto clothing or shoes, and track your steps. Wearing one while walking or running can provide a great incentive to get moving, as you have a concrete measure to work towards. Fitness trackers are similar to pedometers, but also will monitor your heart rate and have greater tracking capabilities.
Exercise equipment such as yoga mats, kettlebells, jump ropes, resistance bands, and weights can be used for an indoor or outdoor workout. Depending on the type of equipment, you may be able to use it from home, or you can look for a gym or other facility nearby that offers access to this type of equipment.
By incorporating different tools and accessories into your physical activity routine, you can enjoy additional variety and challenge to help you stay motivated.
Physical activity is an important part of staying healthy and happy. As we age, it’s even more essential for our overall wellbeing. Incorporating additional physical activity into your daily routine can have countless benefits, from increasing energy levels and curbing stress to improving heart health and boosting your mood. By recognizing barriers to exercise, planning ahead with time-based strategies, setting realistic goals, and engaging in community activities or workouts that you enjoy, you can make physical activity a priority in your life.