Holidays are over, the house is less cluttered, and resolutions have been made. I like early January! It is a fresh canvas with nothing on it, and it’s up to me how I will paint the year.
A common resolution I often hear as a Qualified Exercise Professional here at Healthlink BC is, “I’d like to become more active”. The nice thing about being active is that there are both instant and long-term benefits. That said, to fully benefit in the long run from physical activity, you need to be consistent with it. A good way to go about forming a new habit is to use the three R’s: routine, reminder and reward.
I brush my teeth every morning and night. I don’t even think about it - it’s a routine. Building physical activity into your routine so that it becomes second nature is a phenomenal goal. There are many ways to do this. For example, schedule time to be active in your day planner or calendar at the start of the week. Or combine it with another task like active commuting; try biking to work or getting off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way.
I personally set the alarm on my smart phone but you could try something more subtle. For example, you could use the sight of a staircase as a reminder to take the stairs vs. the elevator. Or, you could recruit a workout buddy to send you a text to confirm you’re going to that spin class with them.
Make it fun and keep it exciting by setting up rewards for yourself. This doesn’t have to be a gold star on a calendar after a week’s physical activity. Here are a few examples:
- Set and achieve a goal: For someone who is sticking to their first running plan, finishing a 5 km race in 30 minutes might be their reward. For well-seasoned runners finishing a 5 km race in 15 minutes might be their reward for several months of dedication to their running, good sleeping, and healthy eating habits.
- Give yourself a small gift: For example, tell yourself that if you succeed in going to your aerobics class two times per week for one month, you’ll buy yourself a new workout top that you can wear to your class.
- Notice how good you feel: do normal, everyday tasks a little bit differently. For example, take the stairs, stand when you can, take breaks from sitting every hour. Overtime small steps like this give you the reward of healthier weight, more energy, and better sleep.
Sometimes life gets in the way. Your boss wants you to finish an urgent project, your kids get sick, or the house needs emergency renovations. Don’t panic! Don’t feel guilty. The beauty of a habit is that it is formed over time. Missing one or two sessions of activity is no big deal. Handle the issue at hand and modify or temporarily skip your exercise routine. Take some time to think about things that keep you from achieving your goal; what are your barriers and how you might work around them? Then, pick up your routine once again.
The three R’s of habit formation can help you consistently stay active and follow through on your new year’s resolution. Need more help or motivation to stick with your fitness goals? Talk to a Qualified Exercise Professional at Healthlink BC (for FREE!) by simply calling 8-1-1.
Healthlink BC: Meet Your Goals for The Year