According to the first ever Participaction Report Card, Canadians over the age of 18 score a D for overall physical activity, with most spending far too much time sitting and not enough time getting heart-pumping exercise. The report goes on to give adults in general a score of F when it comes to moderate-to-vigorous activity, with a finding that just 16 per cent of adults get the recommended 150 minutes each week.
As we head into the colder months and shorter days, it’s even more of a struggle for our good intentions to match our actions and motivation levels to get up and start moving. However, I know for a fact that most Canadians, myself included, would like nothing more than to reap the benefits of regular exercise. Therefore, I have faith that with the right foundation in place, starting with even one step in the right direction, and even the smallest amount of motivation, together we can get excited about the mark on our next exam.
So here are some tips to help lead us toward successful fitness goals and lifestyle changes for the year ahead and beyond.
1. Identify Your Goals
- Be specific, keeping in mind what achieving this goal will mean to you. Include the health benefits or functional recovery that will most directly affect you for added incentive. Such as, “I will walk the dog 3x/week for 30 mins at a moderate to brisk pace in order to improve my stamina to play with my grandchildren.”
- Include what sacrifices, lifestyle changes and effort you are willing to accept to achieve your fitness goal and confirm these with your health care provider.
- Include Exercise/health/wellness within your top 5 overall life goals, in order that you will maintain sufficient focus on it as a priority.
2. Keep Goals Manageable
- Break exercise goals into smaller steps or manageable portions that can be measured. Tracking progress on a chart allows for regular visual feedback that provides an ongoing sense of accomplishment. Even a small drop in the bucket over a consistent period adds up to a full pail over time.
- For example, if you haven’t been to the gym in a long time, or if it’s your first time, your goal might be as simple as “I will go to the gym 1x/week for 20 minutes.”
- Incorporate small chunks of exercise into your regular daily routine. Before you know it, you’ve formed a habit. Such as, “before I have my shower in the morning, I will do 15 mins on the elliptical.”
3. Set Achievable Goals
- Identify obstacles along with their solutions in order to increase likelihood of your goal being achievable. For example, an obstacle might be finding childcare. Therefore, if your goal is to go the gym for 30 mins after work on Wednesday, you know that you will have to arrange for a babysitter ahead of time.
- Track your particular triggers for excuses. These might include your environment (once you’ve sat down in front of the TV) or competing goals for example. Fitting in a workout before you hit the couch, or making a complete list of your overall goals, pruning away those that can wait, will also prove to be extremely helpful.
4. Schedule Your Goals
- Mark your exercise sessions into your weekly or even monthly calendar.
- At the same time, be realistic about unexpected events and be willing to be flexible about substitutions. Making a plan for an alternate workout at home in those cases when you just cannot get to the gym is just one example.
5. Keep Yourself Timebound
- “Just Do it” is more than just a catch phrase. All too often, motivation doesn’t come until after you begin, so that first step is key.
- Repeated execution over time, will eventually become a habit.
For help with selecting an exercise program that is specific to your needs, feel free to contact us at Donald Physiotherapy. Our therapists are committed to helping you reach your goals and achieve your best self.
~ Elizabeth, PT