From Idle to Active: Breaking the Sedentary Habit
People who are sedentary often get called "slob" or "couch potato," but a sedentary lifestyle is more prevalent today then ever before! More and more, our day is punctuated by long periods of sitting and inactivity!
A sedentary lifestyle involves remaining inactive for most of the day, with little or no exercise. Despite the well known benefits of physical activity, many adults and children lead relatively sedentary lifestyles. A recent survey found 59% of adult respondents never participated in vigorous physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes per week! This is astonishing!
Barriers to breaking the sedentary habit
There are numerous reasons why we resolve to be less sedentary. It could be that you’ve received a chronic disease diagnosis, or maybe it's just that you are no longer able to zip up your favorite pair of jeans! Efforts to be active is a good thing, yet there are numerous barriers that often thwart our good intentions to get moving:
Psychological factors: Depression or lack of support from family or friends can extinguish your enthusiasm for fitness. Finding a coach or support groups can help.
Body image: A fear that everyone at the gym is slimmer or stronger than you can make you feel self-conscious about your body. However, most gyms cater to a vast range of ages, body types and fitness levels.
Physical limitations: Joint pain and limited mobility can dampen any desire to get moving. A personal trainer can help by customizing activities to fit your personal needs and goals.
No time: Some people are so busy caring for others that keeping fit is the last thing on their already overburdened to-do list!
Unrealistic goals: People will resolve to get fit, going from total inactivity to jumping into harcore working out without building up to it gradually, resulting in injury or burn out.
Boredom: Walking an indoor track over and over can make you feel like hamster in an exercise wheel! Try varying your routine.
The benefits of movement
You’ll be healthier: There are many ways to get healthy, such as a nutrient dense diet, adequate sleep, and managing stress, but a healthy lifestyle is not complete without some form of movement. When you commit to being active, you may actually lose weight, strengthen your muscles, exercise your heart or lower your cholesterol, amongst other things.
You’ll change your diet: When you start to see and feel the benefits of being active, it will dawn on you that the foods you’re eating are not an optimal source of fuel for your body. Being conscious of the food choices you are making can increase your desire for cleaner, more healthful foods.
You’ll be less stressed: Getting moving is one of the best ways to beat stress! It is well known that exercise, especially when done outdoors, is great for lifting your mood and relieving stress.
You’ll want to quit bad habits: The positive results of being active can increase you awareness of how harmful habits like smoking or heavy drinking are at odds with your new, healthier lifestyle.
You’ll find community: Join local fitness groups in your area, such as a walking group, or why not start your own group! The companionship is inspirational and you'll keep one another accountable!
Getting yourself moving
Start small: Many people make the mistake of trying to do too much. You could wind up injuring yourself or burning out. By increasing your activity level safely, you are less likely to get discouraged, maintaining the momentum needed to make activity a habit for life.
Make it fun: If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t stick to it. Being active doesn’t have to feel like a chore, but can be something that you actually look forward to! Getting fit can be fun by finding ways to make movement more playful. Think about activities that were pleasurable as a kid and do those things! Read more here about making movement fun!
Partner up: Finding someone with similar goals provides the motivation and accountability required to maintain lasting change. Having a workout buddy can ensure you are less likely to skip a work out, and makes exercise less boring then doing so alone.
Take movement breaks: Your job may require hours of prolonged sitting. In order to combat the negative effects of excessive sitting, set yourself reminders to get up and stretch or walk around once every hour for severals minutes before returning to your desk. Being active doesn’t have to be restricted to a designated time slot each day, but scattered throughout in small bites.
Utilize technology: So often, technology gets a bad rap for contributing to our sedentary lifestyle. Indeed, as a nation, we are glued to our screens and devices, but you can make your smart phone work to your advantage. Make use of break reminder or pedometer apps that can track your progress. A plethora of wellness apps are available, many of which are free!
So don't just sit there! Get moving!