So you’ve decided that 2017 is the year to lose weight. All you see in your future are iceberg lettuce and treadmills. The future looks grim, but that’s what it takes to be healthy… right? Wrong!
Before trying to lose weight and punishing yourself when you don’t, consider your 2017 resolution to be healthier in a different light. We’re asking that you resolve to be more active:
- To sit less and move more and to get everyone in your life to do the same.
- To surprise people in the office boardroom and STAND UP during a meeting.
- To send your child to school with a BALL (ball bans be gone!).
- And to get your older relative walking with you every day after dinner.
- Channel your inner child and climb a tree, or try a ‘weird’ sport.
Only 1/5 of Canadian adults are active enough. In other words, only 20% of us are getting 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per week for health benefits. For children and youth, the numbers are even lower. Only 1/10 (9%) of children and youth accumulate the recommended 60 minutes of activity per day.
Meeting physical activity guidelines can reduce the risk of:
- premature death
- heart disease
- colon cancer
- breast cancer
- type 2 diabetes
- poor fitness
- unhealthy body composition
- poor mental health
But the best part is you can reap the benefits of being active even if you are overweight or obese. That’s not to say that weight status has nothing to do with physical activity, but to say that those who are overweight or obese but fit are better off than those who are normal weight but unfit. Fit but fat is better than unfit and thin.
Do you feel like you’re starting from zero? Don’t despair. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. Start slow and work your way up.
Make SMART goals each day. Here’s how:
- S = Specific AND Simple. Specificity keeps you focused, and simple keeps it easy.
- M = Measurable. When you can write it down and check it off, you’re much more likely to do it than if it’s something abstract. “Walk 10 minutes to the grocery store and back” is a lot easier for your brain to process than “Take a long walk.”
- A = Achievable. Remember, small steps are important. If I’ve never run before, there’s no way I’m going to finish a marathon. If you’re currently inactive, set a goal to go for two walks, 10 minutes each this week. It’s simple, and measurable. It’s also…
- R = Realistic. You work, you have kids, family, friends, a long commute, are taking a class, are really into Netflix… We’re all busy, so set a goal that makes sense for your life. Two, 10 minute walks – one at lunch during the week, and one on Saturday. Totally do-able.
- T = Timely or time-bound. Set a time goal and time it. I have a 5 minute rule – even when the last thing I want to do is exercise, I go for 5 minutes and see if I change my mind. Giving yourself a challenge ‘deadline’ can really help you to stay on track.
The potential benefits of being active also far outweigh the potential risks. So go on and move more! And if need be, just buy some stretchy pants.