Many people start the year by setting goals and targets. Being more active is a common objective, but all too often, we throw ourselves into fitness regimes that aren’t sustainable or set goals that aren’t achievable. Motivation levels tend to drop after an initial burst of optimism and enthusiasm.
If you’re already struggling to stick to resolutions, or you’re interested in making long-term changes, this guide is packed with advice to help you embrace a more active lifestyle in 2023.
Understand The Benefits Of Exercise
One of the most common reasons people take up sports and fitness at the start of the year is to lose weight after the festive season. During the Christmas period, we often throw caution to the wind in terms of our diets and eating habits. When January arrives, it heralds the start of weight loss campaigns. Losing weight can be a benefit of exercising more, but exercise alone won’t help you to drop those excess festive pounds.
To notice a difference, you’ll need to combine an active lifestyle with a healthy diet. It’s also crucial to understand the benefits of exercise. As a society, we devote a huge amount of time and energy to talking about physical activity as a means of losing weight. In reality, the advantages of being active are far more wide-ranging.
If you’re trying to change your lifestyle and up your activity levels, it’s brilliant to start by researching the benefits of regular exercise and learning about the effects of exercise on your body and mind. Being active reduces the risk of several serious, potentially life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes.
It also lowers the risk of osteoporosis, dementia and depression. Another incredible benefit of an active lifestyle is building confidence and feeling great. Although you may not feel amazing if you’re struggling towards the end of a run or you’re out of breath during a dance or HIIT session, afterwards, you’ll feel incredible. When you move your body, the levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain increase and your body releases endorphins.
For many people, exercise is a natural stress-buster. It can also help you to manage and control your emotions and express yourself and it provides a welcome distraction from pressures at work, relationship troubles and other sources of stress and anxiety.
Use An Activity Tracker
Activity trackers and wearable devices have become increasingly popular in the last five years. Cutting-edge technology gives you access to all kinds of information and data, including sleep quality, heart rate and active minutes. Activity trackers are brilliant if you’re getting started with a new exercise regime, or you’re keen to start being more active. Your device will tell you how many steps you take each day and how many minutes you’ve been active for each day or week and it can also track your heart rate.
Wearable devices can help to motivate you and encourage you to work towards your goals. Studies show that wearing an activity tracker can increase the amount of time spent exercising by around 40 minutes per day. If you haven’t used a device before and you’re new to exercise, track your usual activity levels. Check the stats on your app and then set targets.
If you’re starting at 2,000 steps per day or 30 active minutes per week, for example, try to get to 5,000 steps each day or hit a weekly target of 90 active minutes. As you get fitter, you can increase the amount of exercise you do and make the activities more intense. Health experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This includes walking, dancing, playing sports, yoga, Pilates, cycling, swimming and all kinds of other active pursuits.
Try New Activities
When people talk about getting fit at the start of the year, we tend to conjure up images of gyms and jogging in the rain and snow. Some people love to run and lots of people enjoy going to the gym, but you don’t have to go running or spend an hour in the gym every day to get in shape. There are all kinds of activities and sports you can try, and it’s a great idea to vary workouts and explore new hobbies and activities.
Go for a bike ride with friends, join a dance or spin class, do yoga at home, go swimming or get your family together for a long walk in the countryside or a day of games at the park. Go kayaking, climbing or trampolining, or work up a sweat at a circuit training session. Look for local tennis or golf clubs, join a netball, hockey, cricket, football or rugby team or try kickboxing or judo.
Tailor your schedule to suit your preferences and interests. If you love being outside, go hiking or cycling or try your hand at surfing. Visit a surf shop or hire a wetsuit and take some beginner classes. Try open-water swimming or join a local climbing club. If you prefer activities like dancing or working out in the gym, look for fun classes you can go to with friends or colleagues or make new friends with similar interests.
From spin classes and toning sessions to HIIT, circuits, street dance, Zumba and boxercise, there’s a huge range of options available. For people who prefer to exercise alone, home workouts are a great idea. You could also consider working with a personal trainer or taking up sports like golf, cycling, swimming, tennis or running.
Embrace Active Social Opportunities
If you’re short on time, you want to be more active and you wish you could see friends and family members more, why not embrace active social opportunities? Instead of sitting in a coffee shop, going to the cinema, going shopping or meeting up for dinner, you could go for a walk, plan a bike ride, go to an exercise class or organise a fun day out that involves playing sports or exploring the great outdoors. Go trampolining, play mini-golf, take a trip to a water park or get your bikes out and cycle to the park or the beach for a picnic.
Incorporate Exercise Into Your Daily Routine
Getting into exercise can be difficult, but once you get used to working out or being more active, it will become part of normal daily life. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Include a brisk walk, a 30-minute jog or a stretching session in your morning regime, take a break at lunch to stretch your legs or go to a class, cycle to and from work, play sports in the evening or do a workout when you get home from the office.
Schedule breaks for exercise or try to kill two birds with one stone if you’re pushed for time. You could walk or cycle to work instead of driving a short distance or catch up with a friend at the gym, pool or court instead of going for a drink.
Look For Time-Saving Solutions
One of the main reasons why people are not as active as they should be is a lack of time. If you work long hours, or you spend hours commuting each day, it’s natural to want to wind down and relax as soon as you get home. If time is an issue, there are ways to free up time for exercise. Block out times in your schedule, get up slightly earlier, manage your time effectively and include short bursts of exercise in your routine. Instead of going jogging or walking for an hour, for example, do 20 minutes of interval training or a 30-minute spin class.
Even if you can only manage 15 minutes, you can boost your health and well-being by moving your body. It’s also a great idea to make small changes to your daily habits. Use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, take regular breaks and go for a walk rather than staying at your desk and park further away so that you can increase your step count.
Set New Goals
Setting goals can help you to increase your motivation levels. Make sure your targets are realistic and achievable, reward yourself when you hit targets and set new goals to encourage development and improvement. Break big goals down into small milestones. If you want to run a marathon, for example, start with a 5K run and build up to a 10K challenge and a half-marathon. Try to avoid pushing yourself too hard and putting too much pressure on yourself as this can increase the risk of injuries and it may also set you back mentally.
Regular exercise offers an incredible array of benefits for mental well-being and physical health. If you’re keen to be more active in 2023, there are multiple steps you can take to maintain motivation, work towards targets and embrace a new lifestyle. Have fun, enjoy socialising with others, try new sports and activities, explore different places and set new goals.
Learn about the advantages of being active, use activity trackers and look for ways to save time and make the most of exercise sessions and downtime. Get friends and relatives involved and tailor your regime to suit your interests and preferences.