Making habits: How to have an active lifestyle

Some of us have always been active people, while there are others who have wanted to be active but have not been able to make it a habit yet. It can be discouraging for some if they are not as active as they would like to be, and they often view active people as having some kind of superhuman power. But even active people only remain so because of habits that they have built over time. Any person, no matter what their fitness level, physique, or age, can become active by creating the habit of being active. It is, of course, not as simple as that, but we have some ideas to help you get started.

1. Start small

Make time for relaxing
Make time for relaxing

It is common to want to completely change your activity level, diet, and daily routine all at the same time, but that is not very realistic. If you are aiming to get to the point that you want to hike for fun or enjoy other activities, you need to ease yourself into it. Begin to up your activity level slowly to help create a habit that you are able to maintain easily. Some small changes that you can start with are:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Parking further from the door at the store.
  • Use your lunch break to take walks.
  • Stand up at your desk and stretch every 10 minutes or so.
  • Walk or jog in place during television shows.

2. Get enough sleep

If you are not getting the appropriate amount of sleep, you can forget about reaching your activity goals quickly. Your body needs rest for many different reasons, but one of the most important is that sleep is when your body gets the chance to regenerate. If you are rested, you will have more energy to get moving in the morning. If you are not rested, you will most likely want to conserve your energy, making your active goals much harder to achieve. Here are some ways to help you to get enough sleep:

  • Set an alarm for when you should turn off your computer or phone so you do not lose track of time.
  • Do not play on your smartphone before bed.
  • Do not put a television set in your room.
  • Limit caffeine consumption after noon.
  • Limit alcohol intake.

3. Keep your eye on the prize

Set your goals and keep making new ones as you achieve the old ones
Set your goals and keep making new ones as you achieve the old ones

You need to know where you are headed with your goal. You should have some kind of target in mind. For example, you could start with riding your bike once a week. Once you have achieved that for a while, up it to twice a week. But you should have some kind of end goal that you know that you are working hard to obtain. If you are a goal-oriented person, it is crucial to the success of your efforts to make lifestyle changes to focus on the end result. You want to feel better, move easier, and be healthier, so you know that you need to get your body up and moving.

4. Choose the right activity

Not everyone is going to enjoy the same kind of activity. Not all active people are runners or hikers, but instead they have found some kind of activity that meets their needs and desires. If running is torture for you, then you don’t want to use that as the primary way to get yourself more active. It will be easier for you to build a new habit if you are having fun with the task at hand. It does not mean you are locked into only one type of activity, but that you should begin with one you can enjoy and go from there.

If you like Zumba, for example, and would like to then branch out to running or swimming after you have become comfortable with the activity, you can easily do that. In fact, you will find that it is easier to try other activities once you have become familiar with at least one kind.

5. Accompany the activities with appropriate food

Eat smart, eat healthy
Eat smart, eat healthy

Starting a new active lifestyle is going to burn off a few calories. Because of this you need to be aware of your food intake. Unless you have a medical condition (if you do you should consult a doctor before starting any new exercise regime, you should begin your active lifestyle goals with the right food choices. Processed and carb-heavy foods are not ideal for people trying to break a bad habit, whereas eating vegetables and fruit and meals that you need to cook yourself will build you up for success.

But, overhauling your diet can also be a hard thing to stick with. You do not need starve yourself or you will wind up hurting yourself, binging on bad foods, or give up the attempt altogether. Instead, make changes gradually. Order water instead of soda pop, agree to only eat out once a week or even once a month. Making changes that seem small to begin with will add up over time and you will find that you are making more positive choices naturally. Eating well will give you energy and set you up for success.

6. Make time for yourself

Relax and enjoy your free time
Relax and enjoy your free time

One of the biggest reasons that people give for not participating in activities and exercise is that they do not have the time to do it. It can be hard to get out and walk if you have been working all day or hard to get up earlier in the morning to get a run in. What you can do is add in some time for activities into your daily schedule. If the activities do not happen daily, odds are you may find that one of the times you set aside work for you.

You will need to figure out what time of day works best for your schedule, your energy, and the activity you are doing. If you are trying to take up running, you are not going to want to go for a jog at 10:00 at night. Plan your schedule well and then you will find that time is one excuse that you cannot use.

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marion-fernandez is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival