3 ways to trick yourself into being more active

You’ve heard it before: being active is good for you.

So is eating healthy and saving for retirement. That doesn’t mean we all do it, nor does it make it easy. As we get older, our routine can be tough to shake up. Sometimes it feels next to impossible.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (CPA) recommend adults get some type of moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week.

We promise you can get there without breaking the bank or making major life changes.

Here are 3 ways you can trick yourself into being more active.

1. Make it automatic

Behavioural science tells us that we usually ‘go with the flow’ of options around us. The UK Government’s MINDSPACE Report calls these our ‘defaults’. To make activity your default, make it impossible to ignore. Place your active clothes or gear by your bed the night before you intend to work out. This prompt does two things. 1) It reduces the barriers between you and your activity, 2) the visual cue reminds you of your plans (in case it slips your mind!).

This tip is especially helpful as we move into Canadian winter. We’ll take all the inspiration we can get!

2. Get social

Involving a friend is a great way to keep you on the path to your activity goals. Say you plan to do a 20-minute walk during your lunch hour every Tuesday/Thursday. Invite someone to join you! Involving someone else holds you accountable to your plans.

Is there a local sports team you can join? Cities often have recreational leagues offering many sports options at a low cost. Make a pact with your friend to start softball in the summer. Social pressure for good. Who knew?

If you prefer solo activities, that’s A-Okay. The simple act of telling someone your plans makes it more likely that you’ll follow through. Text a few friends or tell your partner that you plan to go for a jog on Friday.

3. Think small

Exercising for 150 minutes a week (as per CPA Guidelines) sounds like a lot. But breaking it down into 10-minute chunks? Totally manageable.

Typically, the goal of physical activity is to elevate your heart rate. Luckily, there are many different ways to do this. Water aerobics is great for those with mobility impairment, spinal or nerve problems. If standing exercises are not available to you, try chair yoga or chair aerobics. Feeling the burn? Good sign!

By thinking about your activity in smaller pieces, you’ll be nailing 20 to 30 minutes a day in no time.


Here are some exercise videos you can do at home:

Weights not your thing? Good thing everyone loves dancing. The Fitness Marshall packs moves AND humour.

Need to stay seated while working out? Try this 10-minute arm workout you can do in a chair.

 


You don’t have to start an intense workout plan or join a gym to be physically active. With small actions, you can make it happen.

The benefits speak for themselves. Hitting 150 minutes of activity each week can prevent your risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Expect your mental and physical health to improve, too. Win, win, win!

You got this.

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This post was also published on Medium.com.