I am pretty much a believer that the words, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” are contradictory. However, every once in a while when it comes to the subject of health, government agencies can prove helpful. I think one of the keys to living a long and healthy life is to exercise regularly.
Following are suggestions from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases NIDDK).
Making New Year’s resolutions is easy, but like most things in life, consistent follow through is necessary to create results and sustain positive change. People of all ages and abilities benefit from physical activity.
Get Motivated. The health benefits of regular exercise are too great to overlook. Regular physical activity may help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. Staying active may also boost energy, mood, and overall health. Make a list of these benefits and keep them where you can easily review them. Tracking progress with a journal, website, or mobile app may also to keep motivation high.
Set goals and make plans. Setting achievable goals and following through by taking small steps to realize them increases your likelihood of success. For instance, a plan to be active on most days of the week may involve walking 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week and gradually building up to 5 days. A plan to join a gym and take classes 7 days a week may be harder to keep up long-term. Those confined to a wheelchair may try wheelchair aerobics, gradually adding more time to the routine.
Share your goals and plan. Publicly sharing New Year’s resolutions may be an effective motivator. Friends and family members can serve as a social support system and encourage you if you feel tempted to quit.
Do what you love. Find an activity you truly enjoy, this will increase the likelihood that you will stick to it. Find a workout buddy with similar goals to become more active.
Establish a backup plan. Establish a “Plan B.” If physical activity is outdoors, walking at a mall or swimming at a local recreation center or high school is a useful alternative in bad weather. Another option is an upper-body workout with weights or resistance bands.
Expect setbacks. Everyone faces setbacks. The key is to not get discouraged. Restart efforts to meet your goals and remember that change takes time. Your efforts will pay off with patience and persistence.
The NIDDK has tools and information to help adults and youth change their health habits
and realize their health goals by getting and staying active, eating healthy, and managing their weight. The NIDDK sponsors research on how eating, physical activity, and other factors affect health and weight; and how to treat weight-related health problems such as diabetes and chronic kidney disease.