Maybe you know that physical activity (at least 30-60 minutes daily) can lower risk for several different cancers. Or maybe you just feel better when you move more.
Even when you know those things, though, you may still struggle to keep it going.
Here at the Food and Nutrition Conference, I attended a workshop where we talked strategies for how to stay physically active throughout life. From a list of 14 common strategies, we checked off which ones we use for ourselves.
Then we divided into groups by how long we have actually been able to meet the U.S. guidelines (150 minutes per week) for physical activity – less than 2 years, 2-4 years and 4 years or more.
Those who have stayed active 4+ years used around eleven strategies, those in the 2-4 years averaged seven and the one person in the less than 2 years actually used about 8.
The speaker said these numbers are typical when she surveys her audiences. So while not a scientific sampling, the concept is interesting.
Getting and staying active may require a whole slew of strategies – there probably isn’t just one idea that will work to keep you incorporating activity in your day or being intentional about going for a walk on a consistent basis throughout life. Things change in life – whether job, living arrangement or other circumstances. So if you find several ways you can be active and know what really works for you, you may be much more likely to stay physically active throughout life.
Below you can read the 14 common strategies. How many do you use? Are there other strategies that you use? If so, please share.
And if you aren’t as physically active as you’d like to be, choose a few of these that may help you “step it up.” Need more ideas? See our brochure Keep It Up
Some strategies to use to stay active
1. Replace sedentary activities such as watching TV with active ones such as short walks, gardening, or playing with children or grandchildren.
2. Understand the benefits of physical activity that matter to me.
3. Set short- and long-term physical activity goals.
4. Reward myself for reaching my physical activity goals.
5. Get support from my family and friends.
6. Exercise with friends.
7. Track how much physical activity I do every day.
8. Search out new opportunities for being physically active at home, at work, on vacation or on trips.
9. Plan ahead for situations (e.g. holidays, travel) that might cause interruptions in my physical activity.
10. Don’t get down on myself when I miss exercising for a few days.
11. Be flexible in my thinking about physical activities. Many types can count.
12. Take active vacations.
13. Feel confident that I can be active in just about any climate, location or situation.
14. Manage my time well so that I can include regular physical activity.