Are you feeling overwhelmed with stress, lacking in energy and struggling to focus and be productive? Are you finding it hard to get quality sleep?
Perhaps you think “I’m not athletic, exercise is not for me” or “I’ve tried it before and couldn’t do it”. Maybe you feel self-conscious and uncomfortable or don’t know where to start.
There is a huge amount of evidence suggesting that incorporating activity into your lifestyle can help address all of the above issues and deliver numerous other benefits. I have purposely used the term activity rather than exercise. You don’t need to be an athlete and it can be as simple as going for a walk or taking the stairs to the office instead of the elevator.
Below I have outlined 7 easy steps that I am confident can help anyone incorporate regular activity into their lifestyle.
7 Steps to a Healthier and More Productive Life
1. Keep it simple
Make it as easy as possible. Choose an activity that doesn’t require investment in expensive equipment and lessons, e.g. you may think that cycling is your thing so be sure that you have the budget for a bike, helmet, gear and accessories as well as the time to go and buy it, get it fitted and serviced.
Likewise give some thought to where you will do your activity. Close to home or the office is perfect. As soon as you start having to travel to get there you can be sure things will get in the way and it will slide.
2. Get a check-up and advice
Before you start, especially if you have been inactive for a while, it makes great sense to get a check-up from your doctor.
Then ask for advice to help you get started. That may be paid for support such as a personal trainer or coach but it doesn’t have to be. Check in with your friends and work mates who do similar exercise and of course use the internet.
3. Find a partner or accountability buddy
Research has shown that most people like to do activities and exercise with others. It adds to the enjoyment but also helps keep you committed. When I was at university I used to race on the track and I had a training partner. Each day we would alternate the start of our morning run between his place and mine. Needless to say, we hardly ever missed a run and we helped each other through the inevitable hard days.
So, find yourself a partner or partners and commit to doing activity together. It is a great way to spend time with your life partner and family or perhaps you prefer to do it with a friend or work mate. Be sure to consider ease of meeting with them.
4. Set a realistic goal
It can be as simple as “for the next three months, I’m going to walk for half an hour three times a week”. I always find that setting a target to participate in an event is a great motivator. If that’s your plan be sure to sign up as soon as you set the goal. I’m currently training for a cycling event in September.
5. Schedule it
Block the time that you have committed to in your diary as non-negotiable. Make the commitment that only an emergency can over-ride it. Be sure to set a realistic time, e.g. if you are not a morning person perhaps it’s better to schedule it at night. I personally find that mornings are the best. It’s a great way to start the day and there is far less chance of it being bumped by the events of the day.
6. Share it
Your training partner should help keep you accountable but there is nothing better than sharing your commitment with your friends and colleagues to help keep you going. Not only will they help keep you honest but you may be surprised at the huge amount of support and encouragement that you will receive.
7. Reward yourself
Reward yourself along the way and also once you have achieved your goal. Part of my routine is cycling three or four mornings a week. I’m extremely fortunate to live in Bali where I have stunning rides through the rice fields and villages. I love the reward of finishing at my favourite cafe for coffee and sometimes breakfast.
As you can see the steps are simple and it can cost very little. The key is recognising the benefits and making the decision.
Are you prepared to step up and make the commitment to improve your personal wellbeing and work productivity? Start small and simple and build momentum over time. I’m certain you will not regret it.