We all know that physical activity is important yet more than half of Australian adults are not active enough to maintain good health. Whether it's lack of time, motivation, support or know-how, these tips will help you incorporate more physical activity into your lifestyle.
1. Plan ahead
Schedule physical activity into your daily routine and do your best to stick to it. A commitment to being active needs to be long-term, and should become a normal part of your everyday lifestyle. If time is limited, try getting up earlier or walking during your lunch break. Part of your planning is to remember your safety by being well hydrated and having water with you during your activity especially in the hot climate of Australia.
You do not need expensive equipment to begin exercising. Start with a good pair of training shoes and comfortable clothes. Take a water bottle and don't forget to wear sunscreen and a hat in summer. Other equipment that can be used, and is not expensive, includes pedometers and heart rate monitors, which are useful for goal setting and progress monitoring.
3. Get support
You are more likely to succeed if you have the support and encouragement of family or friends. Group activities are a great way of staying motivated and a good opportunity to get involved in your local community.
4. Choose an activity that is right for you
When choosing a new activity, take time to consider what would best suit you. Think about convenience, budget, pre-existing medical conditions and whether or not you will enjoy the activity. You wouldn't take up scuba diving if you couldn't afford it, had to travel for hours and don't like getting wet!
5. Be creative
Try something different - let your imagination run wild. Vary the places you go walking or try line dancing, water aerobics, or join local social cricket, netball or lawn bowls teams - there's bound to be something out there that's perfect for you.
6. Keep at it
Occasionally there may be periods of time where you lose focus and go off track. Do your best to get back to doing some physical activity when you can - try to think positive, plan ahead and always keep the benefits in mind.
7. Set goals
Set both short and long-term goals so you have something to work towards. Be realistic - you won't be able to run a marathon in two weeks time; but you might be able to walk every day for a week. Keep track of your achievements, re-evaluate and set new goals as you achieve each goal.
8. Reward yourself
It's important to reward yourself when you achieve your goals. Having an added incentive can also help you to get going when you don't feel motivated. A reward could be anything from buying your favourite magazine, getting a manicure or going away for the weekend.
9. Listen to your body
Exercising is not about 'no pain, no gain'. If an activity causes you pain either slow down or stop altogether. Pain is a sign that something might be wrong. If you are worried, see your health practitioner before continuing.
10. Have fun
Enjoyment is essential for maintaining a long-term commitment to being more physically active. Be selective in the activities that you choose, get in involved in group activities and stay positive - you're worth the effort.
Published with the permission of the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health
Tollfree number 1800 151 441 for women seeking further health information www.JeanHailes.org.au