Around this time each year, most of us make new year resolutions. The most common resolution is to stay fit and active in the coming year. Unfortunately, most of us end up breaking this resolution one or two months into the new year.
Let’s look at how we can keep to a physically active lifestyle. An active lifestyle makes you look better and feel more energetic. More importantly it cuts down your risk for a plethora of diseases, including cancer.
Obesity is a leading risk factor for most types of cancer. Being physically inactive causes obesity, which in turn puts you at higher risk of cancer and several other diseases.
Here are some tried and tested tips to make your everyday life more active and healthy.
Make it easy
Leukemia survivor Amit Dubey suggests that we start with tasks that are easy to perform. The easier the task the more likely we are to keep doing it daily, till it becomes a habit for us
Look for a time in your daily schedule when you can do some light exercises like going for a walk around the block, or do some basic stretching exercises. Start with something easy and slowly build up the routine so that you do not find it too challenging at the start.
Remember to keep yourself hydrated when you start out on your workout routine. Here are some easy recipes to prevent dehydration
Make it fun
If you choose a fitness routine that you do not like, you are less likely to stick to it. For example, if you do not like going to the gym, then you should look for alternative forms of exercise, instead of pushing yourself to go to the gym.
Look up all the possible options available at your location before you can select the one best suited to you.
There are plenty of online options like aerobics, yoga, zumba and different types of dance. Some of these are free, and some are not. Consider the costs and benefits before you enrol.
You can learn more about the benefits of yoga during cancer here.
Make it social
Having a friend or family member join you in your fitness routine makes it more fun and competitive. It also helps ensure you are more regular in your fitness routine as the other person acts as a default monitor to your irregularity.
If you enjoy group activities, look for online groups that meet for yoga, meditation, or other forms of fitness at fixed times in the week.
Make it creative
Looks for ways to be more physically active throughout the day. Here are some ideas that may work for you.
- If you work from home, try a standing desk in place of a sitting one.
- Keep walking when talking calls over the phone.
- Use a tracker to set targets for how many steps you will take daily.
- Set an alarm every hour to stand up and do some stretches before getting back to work.
- Use fifteen minutes of your lunch break to take a quick walk around your block.
- Use the stairs in place of the lift.
- Every time you find yourself waiting for something, (like the microwave to finish heating your food, the kettle to boil, or the customer service agent to answer the call) do small exercises like leg lifts or squats while you wait.
- Start a fitness challenge at work or at home to make it more competitive.
- Keep a journal to note your progress and set rewards for completing action-oriented targets.
Make it regular
Club your workout routine with something else that you like to do. For example, if you enjoy watching a certain TV show daily, then allow yourself to watch it only if you will do crunches while watching it.
Similarly, look for music you like to listen to and play it only when you workout. You can also work out while listening to your podcasts or audio books.
Make it new
If you are bored of the same old workout routines or walks, then spice it up by starting something new. For example, you could invest in a bicycle and schedule daily rides around the nearest park.
Learning a new sport like badminton or table tennis can make your fitness routine interesting. Investing in new fitness equipment like light weights or in comfortable clothes for your fitness routine might motivate you.
Make it energetic
If you feel ready for more energetic exercises, then start by finding the part of your day when you have the most energy. Schedule your workout during that hour.
You can also consider preparing energising snacks to feast on just before your workout. A banana smoothie or a whole grain toast with eggs might work for you.
You can find high-protein breakfast and snack recipes here.
Make it stress free
It’s important not to be too harsh on yourself when you miss a day or two. It’s likely that there will be a break in your schedule from time to time due to factors beyond your control (like weather, or illness) or sometimes due to your own lack of motivation.
An ‘all or nothing’ attitude makes you feel that you have failed in your fitness goals if you miss your workout for a couple of days. This deters you from trying again.
Be prepared to pick up even after a break, and start all over again if you have to. As long as you are still trying, you have not failed.
Also, avoid setting result-oriented goals, like a fixed amount of weight to lose in a month or a fixed number inches to reduce from your waist.
Exercise often takes time before the results show and setting strict targets might lead to disappointment and you might lose your motivation to keep trying.
You can still set goals but make them action oriented as the action (unlike the results) are in your control. You can set targets on how many kilometers you want to walk, or how many hours of tennis you want to play in a week.
Exercise is as important for your mental health as for your physical health. Keeping it stress free and enjoyable ensures that you reap the maximum benefit from it.