From Inactivity to Fitness: Getting Started
with Physical Activity!
Choose an activity
The BEST activity is what YOU enjoy! If you enjoy it then you will do it again. A lot of different things count as exercise: dancing, walking, cycling, yoga, sports, gardening, etc. When selecting an activity of choice, try asking yourself these questions:
- Would you feel more comfortable in a group setting, where the activity is more social or team oriented? Or would you rather workout by yourself in the privacy of your own home, where you can concentrate on your performance?
- Can you relate to or identify with the group of people who engage in that activity? For example, do you see yourself wearing the attire required, such as bicycle shorts, uniforms, or would you be more comfortable in your own clothes.
- Is scheduling an issue? Does your personal schedule conflict with the activity? Can you make the appropriate accommodations?
- Is cost a factor? If you know an activity has costs associated with membership fees, clothing, or equipment, be sure that you have the resources to purchase the appropriate required materials. Take advantage of second hand shops or your local community centres for free group classes, activity doesn’t have to be expensive.
- Ask the experts. If you have never tried an activity before, such as weight or flexibility training, you can hire a personal trainer for one or more sessions to guide you and help modify movements based on any injury. If you are apart of a group class, introduce yourself to the instructor and ask questions if anything does not make sense.
- Make every experience as enjoyable as it can be. For example, listen to music during the activity or get a friend to do it with. Finding a workout partner can help you stay motivated and accountable for your actions.
- Sometimes it helps to keep a fitness or sport log of your performance. As time goes on, you can reflect on past performances to see your improvements. Celebrate the small victories, no matter how small, and be proud of your personal accomplishments!
Focus on Consistency and Progression
- Work towards a progression of the activity you selected and the movements associated with it. For example, if you are walking, use tools like pedometers (step-counters) to measure the number of steps you are taking. The next time you go out for a planned walk, aim to increase the number of steps you take by slightly increasing your speed.
- To know if you are progressing, ask yourself:
- How is my breath rate? Can I easily carry a conversation? Am I gasping for air? Did I feel like I was challenged?
- How is my body temperature? Do you feel yourself sweating? Do you feel warmer then usual?
- Stay consistent! Aim to be active a few days each week. Being active one time per week, every three weeks, will not contribute to your physical health. Repeated movement over time will allow you to see improvements in your physical capabilities and maintain your overall health.
Increasing Activity in your Daily Routine
- Take the stairs. If you have the option of: stairs, elevators, or escalators. Take the stairs whenever possible. Every small movement helps.
- Reduce time spent on your computer, smart phone or in front of the TV. Cutting back on screen time is a great way to reduce your sitting time. Use this spare time to be active, either doing a planned activity or just tidying up around your home.
- Turn sit time into fit time.
- AT HOME: If there is a show on TV that you do enjoy watching everyday, try spending that period of time moving in front of the TV. Ideas include: stretching, mobility activities, or using home gym equipment such as an elliptical, treadmill, or stationary bike.
- AT WORK: If you are sitting at a desk most of the day, you can ask if you can use a standing desk. You can also try taking periodic breaks to walk around or see if your work has a wellness program that you can join.
- Park your car in the farthest parking space. If you drive to work or run errands, purposely park further away from the entrance of your office or store.
- Plan exercise into your day. Set aside a specific time in your schedule to exercise. If you plan ahead, then you are less likely to have any barriers. Treat your daily exercise like an important meeting you cannot cancel!
- Reward yourself. Setting short-term goals and rewards will increase your motivation for being more active. Good examples are: road races, participating in a walk for charity, or specific events in your life. Choose fitness-focused rewards for achieving your target goal, such as new workout apparel, equipment, new clothing. etc.