Why Should I Be Physically Active?
We are constantly hearing recommendations that women should exercise to improve their health, and for good reason. Physical activity can reduce the risk of heart attacks, decrease high blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, prevent disease, build endurance, and make us stronger and more flexible. In addition, women can improve their emotional health through regular exercise - physical activity can improve mood, reduce stress and improve body image.
With all the benefits of physical activity, why is it so hard to be active regularly? Research has found that the two greatest barriers to regular physical activity for women are lack of time and lack of motivation. In other words, busy women who may be trying to balance work, family and other roles, have a hard time making exercise a priority. As well, women who have never been active often don't know how to get started or feel self-conscious when they start to be active.
So how can I find the time in my busy day to be active?
- Redefine your concept of exercise. Instead of structured gym or exercise time, include other ways of being active throughout the day, such as gardening, walking, taking the stairs, cleaning, etc.
- Consider physical activity as time for yourself rather than as a punishment or for weight loss only. You may be more likely to fit it into your day if you recognize that even small amounts of increased activity can give you more energy overall.
- Try to incorporate active time with family members; walking with your partner, bicycling with your children, or hiking with friends.
- Trade child care with your partner or a friend while you each alternate your activity. Sometimes I don't feel like being active.
How can I stay motivated?
- Start out doing small things; walking the dog, biking through your neighborhood, or gardening. That way your commitment to being active does not seem overwhelming.
- Be physically active with a friend. Your active time then becomes social time. Also, if you have made a commitment to be active with someone else, it is more difficult to cancel your workout.
- Try something new; vary your biking route, try a new activity, or turn walking into hiking by changing the terrain.
- Tell yourself that you only have to do 5-10 minutes of activity just to remain consistent. Often times, once you get going, you will feel that you can do more. If not, you can still be proud of yourself for being active that day.