“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres
Identify your wants from physical activityDo you like things organised or prefer a more casual approach? Do you like to do things on your own or to be part of a group-based activity? You are more likely to stick to something you enjoy or which gives a sense of achievement. Getting more exercise might involve getting off the bus two stops early or walking up escalators as well as something more complex. Considerations include:
- Exercising alone – are you self-motivated? If so, this is a good option, especially if your busy schedule prevents you from planning a regular time to be active every day.
- Training buddy – you may be more likely to commit to a physical activity routine if you are doing it with someone else, because you don’t want to let your training buddy down.
- Team sports and group physical activity programs – organised activities offer the chance to widen your social circle as well as getting fit. It doesn’t need to be strenuous either, for instance at a walking football club you are disqualified if you run!
- Mixing it up – some people like to combine two or three options. For example, you may choose to exercise alone on two or three days of the week, and train with a buddy or participate in a team sport on a couple of the other days.
Physical activity – decide on your health goalsWhile any type of physical activity is good for you, different physical activities offer different results. Deciding your health goals will steer you towards the right intensity of activity for you. Tips for choosing a physical activity
- Try to choose an activity you enjoy and that suits both your goals and your lifestyle.
- Choose an indoor activity if you are bothered by weather extremes such as heat or cold.
- Enjoyment is the key to sticking to an exercise plan. Choose an activity you enjoy, not one you think is ‘good for you’.
- Think back. Did you enjoy a particular physical activity as a child, such as cycling or basketball? If so, give that activity another go.
- Keep your budget in mind. Some physical activities, such as skiing or sailing, can require a big financial investment.
- Whatever activity you choose be realistic about your current health and level of fitness. If you are a beginner, the physical demands of certain activities (such as running) may be too much at first. Choose a gentler alternative and work your way up.
- Don’t give up. The benefits of activity come over time and what starts as a chore will hopefully end up as pleasure.
- Be realistic: if you have joint problems try and find a suitable non-weight bearing activity such as swimming or cycling.
- Remember any old injuries and choose exercises that won’t aggravate them.
- Ask the advice of your doctors’ surgery. There may be special clubs which would suit you and may be available on prescription.
The next section looks at some specific activities, their benefits & other considerations to help you find the right one for you.