One of the biggest health challenges facing the world today is the silent epidemic of lifestyle diseases. Diabetes, insulin resistance, cardio-vascular diseases and hypertension have been identified as the biggest killer in the developed world, and are increasingly impacting the quality of life in developing countries.
The good news is that these conditions are highly preventable. And, as with any life-threatening disease, prevention is better than cure. Most of us are aware of the dangers of smoking, drinking and obesity but many overlook the other major contributor to the increase in life-threatening chronic conditions viz. inactivity.
On the down-side, while medication can help manage these chronic conditions, there are no “quick-fixes”, no wonder drugs, no over-the-counter instant solutions, to resolve them. Lifestyle diseases require lifestyle solutions. In short a healthy diet and regular exercise sustained throughout a lifetime.
Lifestyle diseases require lifestyle solutions.
Simple, right? Well, it should be, but for that word “sustained”. Oh, how we humans struggle to sustain good habits. While many if not most people will at some time or another sign on for exercise, few are able to sustain it long-term.
If you are one of those who regularly sign up with enthusiasm in January, only to peter out by June… take heart, it can be done. Here are 5 simple suggestions that, if applied, can help you get going and keep going.
1. Get Up
Ever noticed how busy people are the ones who get things done? They have learned and embraced two simple truths.
- The only way to find time is to make it. If you need an extra hour for exercise, set that alarm an hour earlier and when you hear it, Get up.
- Snooze… you lose. Trite but true. The seconds, minutes, hours you lose prevaricating about getting up aren’t coming back. You can spend them debating whether to get up or not or you can get moving, get out and kick-start your day.
2. You Be The Head
The brain is the command centre of your body. So why is it we so often let the body call the shots? I know that you know what I mean. The little niggle in your shoulder, the early morning stiffness, that “I think I feel a cold coming on” that keeps derailing your exercise plans.
I’m not talking about ignoring pain or training with a raised temperature but letting your body dictate when you train is abdicating. Your body’s default is comfort and it will lie to hold onto that comfort. If you want to sustain an active lifestyle, you be the head.
3. Start Dating
Make a date. Find a running / cycling / walking / gym mate. Or better yet, find a group of like-minded exercisers. Some of you will say you prefer exercising alone. I thought so too but having someone to train with keeps you accountable.
It’s one thing to let yourself down, it’s another to be a no-show on a prearranged date. And the best exercise date of all is a personal trainer/coach. Too costly? Sign up for group sessions. You’ll get all the benefits of training with an expert at a fraction of the price.
4. Choose Your Poison
You are an individual with your own likes and dislikes, capabilities and inabilities. So don’t try to fit into someone else’s mode. If there is one sure way of insuring your exercise regimen won’t last, it’s doing exercise you loathe. Don’t like running?
Find an alternative you do like. The are so many ways to exercise. try as many as you can until you find the one that gets you up in the morning. And, when you do, keep mixing it up. Variety is key to sustaining an active lifestyle. Your body will reap the rewards.
5. Have Fun
Whatever you choose to keep yourself active… have fun doing it. Embrace the joy that movement brings. Run downhill with your arms spreadeagled. Go for a walk in the rain, jump in puddles, skip. Sweat some, train some, work some and laugh… a lot.
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