5 Steps to Achieve an Active Lifestyle

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • I know a magic pill to achieve your health goals would be the ideal, but in reality it comes back to a heart healthy diet and regular physical activity. If you have been sedentary all your life, the idea of "working out" or "exercising" can be very daunting. Let's review a simple step by step approach to adding activity in your lifestyle with the goal of being active long term.

    1. Explore your emotional and cognitive values with respect to the problem.


    Are you sedentary because you are afraid you will look foolish walking around your neighborhood or you believe the gym is a meat market and you do not want to be on display? Are you sedentary because when you tried to participate in sports as a child, you were always chosen last, so activity must not be your thing, right?

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    2. Turn to your support system.


    Which family members or friends can you turn towards? Tell them about your goals and the steps you will take to achieve them. Identify exactly how your family/friends can assist you. Trust them to help you through difficult periods and provide the support you need to stick with your goals.


    3. Substitute alternate positive behaviors for the negative behavior.


    It can take up to 30 days for a new behavior to become a habit. Be aware of this and put safety guards in place. Stick with your action plan and continue to replace old sedentary behaviors with new physically active ones. You may feel some loss. You actually miss your old behaviors. These behaviors are like old friends you felt comfortable with and change moves you out of your comfort zone. Review your reasons for wanting to be physically active and the long-term benefits you will gain if you stick with your plan.


    4. Change the events that determine or sustain the problem behavior.


    Reward yourself for achieving your goals, such as a new outfit, book, or running shoes. Recognize your progress and reward yourself. This will provide you with an incentive to stick with your new plan.


    5. Be aware of triggers for reverting to your old habits.


    What safety mechanisms can you put in place to negate these triggers? Start replacing old behavior triggers with something positive. For example, place your goals where you will see them daily - like the refrigerator. Keep gym shoes by the front door. Create reminders at work, such as tennis shoes under your desk for a lunch time walk. Always be on the lookout for stumbling blocks and be prepared to brainstorm ways to overcome the hurdles.

    If you found these steps useful, you will especially enjoy "How to Make Heart Healthy Changes into Lifelong Habits". You can access this free report provided by Health Central dietitian Lisa Nelson at http://hearthealthmadeeasy.com.


Published On: September 30, 2010