According to the new ParticipACTION report card, 2021 was not a very active year across the country. Only 25% of adults 18 years or older engaged in muscle strength activities at least twice a week. Canadians were given an “F” for being sedentary, with 88% of adults aged 18-79 being sedentary for over 8 hours a day.
A conference Board of Canada paper talks about how small reductions in physical inactivity and sedentary behavior can substantially decrease disease and premature mortality, while increasing economic activity and reducing health care costs. Despite many individuals knowing about all the many benefits of exercise, statistics show that many still struggle to become more active.
Avoiding perfection with exercise and taking small steps to get to where you want to go are good strategies to start. MPT Trent Rempel discusses this concept with Small Simple Steps and Perfection is the Enemy of Great.
James Clear and his book “Atomic Habits” is another resource about making change happen, below are some ideas discussed that could work for you. Check out Mr. Clears’ website for more information.
Instead of trying to lose a certain amount of weight, make it more intrinsic. Think of the type of person who is physically fit and the behaviors they exhibit. They likely exercise consistently. Having the goal of becoming a person who exercises regularly may help you focus on the process and not how far you have to go. Set up a system that incorporates behaviors that reinforce your identity as someone who is active and results will eventually follow.
Make it achievable. Break it down into two minutes to start if you need. Two minutes of exercise may be the start you need to become a person who exercises consistently. Once you master the two minutes, slowly increase to 10 minutes, then 20…until you reach the activity level you desire.
Put a sticky note on your bathroom wall to remind you to exercise before you start your day. Putting your workout clothes by your door before you go to bed can help remind you to go to the gym. It makes it easier by having 1 less thing to do to get started. Tracking your behaviors in a place you can see will help. Using things like paper clips in a jar, marking days on a calendar or on a habit tracking sheet can be a reminder of how many times you have been active with your habit. It is nice to reinforce that you are putting in the work toward a better path.
If you are already walking but want to add some strength, do some push ups, squats or body weight exercises every time you walk by a bench or park. While watching TV, exercise between episodes or during commercials. While waiting for your coffee to brew, sneak in a 2 minute plank routine.
Join a group where you feel you belong and being active is the norm. Instead of being alone in your pursuits you will have a group to lift you up along the way. Numerous clients that join our exercise groups have said they are more consistent when part of a program.
-Jordan Koroll, Exercise Physiologist