Want to learn how to be more active this year?
With a few adjustments to your mentality and schedule, you can easily get more physical activity in. The purpose of being active is not just saying you’ve worked out to check a box off on your to-do list, either. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of obesity, heart issues, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a whole other host of health issues.
Plus, being more active keeps you feeling energized and alert throughout your work day.
Need a little inspiration to get moving? Below we look at how to be more active in the new year.
Use the tips below to motivate yourself to be physically more healthy in 2021.
Believe You Can Do It
It may sound cheesy, but it’s important to know that you can follow through on a promise to yourself. Forget about last year. Erase the memories of not committing to your fitness goals. In fact, the Expectancy Theory — backed by research — indicates that keeping motivated is based on two simple aspects: How much you value your goal and how much you believe in the said goal.
Some fitness affirmations to tell yourself:
- I can crush any fitness goal I set.
- My body is a powerful machine.
- I can do hard things, including working out!
- With each repetition, my body gets stronger.
Affirmations and positive thinking don’t work at all if you say them and then continue sitting on the couch. Instead, use them as motivation to get up and get moving. That leads us to our next point...
What pumps you up and gets you excited to workout? Do more of it. Even if you’re dragging, you’ll find your personal motivators can get you lacing up your sneakers before your mind can convince you otherwise.
A few ways to motivate yourself:
- Find a workout buddy
- Invest in a personal trainer
- Create a workout playlist
- Buy yourself comfortable workout clothes
Mark your workout days on the calendar if it helps. Making it a part of your daily life — like getting up for work or simply brushing your teeth — helps your new physical habit to blend seamlessly into your routines.
Give Fitness Apps a Try
If your local gyms are closed, it may be worth looking at other creative ways to get your workout in. A lot of online fitness companies are providing free or discounted trials for new members. Start searching your favorite workouts online with the word “free” to see what you can find. If you enjoy the workout style, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Some free resources to try out:
- Fitness Blender
- POPSUGAR Fitness
Whether you love yoga, no-equipment workouts, or prefer intense cardio sessions, there’s likely a free app (or limited trial) somewhere online. Check out our full list of free fitness resources to find the perfect one for you!
Choose to Stand
Throughout the day, look for opportunities to stand. You’d be surprised how quickly those moments of standing add up health perks-wise. Standing burns way more calories than sitting.
One Healthline article points out you can burn between 100-200 calories standing per hour compared to 60-130 per hour when sitting.
Consider standing when you’re
- Waiting for the bus
- Working at your computer
- Waiting for your child at their school
- Someone needs a seat on public transportation
When you sit, you’re also more prone to slouching, which can hurt your posture in a big way. If possible, stand up!
Eat a Healthy Diet
The fuel you provide your body has a direct correlation between your energy levels and how you feel overall. Think about how you feel after downing fries and a greasy burger compared to eating a light salad. Big difference, right?
Ways to improve your diet:
- Drink more water
- Choose healthy snacks
- Always shop with a list
- Skip fast food restaurants
- Cut down on processed foods
- Try using crock pots and steamers
If you plan to be more active this year, try adjusting your diet to feed yourself foods that make you feel lively and energetic!
Track Your Results
When you see where you’re going, it makes your healthy lifestyle plan that much more clear. You can keep it as simple as writing it down on paper or even use a fitness wearable to monitor how your daily activity looks.
Ways to track your results:
- A simple phone note
- Paper printable fitness tracker
- Wearables like an Apple Watch or Fitbit
- Apps like Runtastic or Runkeeper
When you track your progress, it offers you a chance to take a glimpse at how you’re doing activity-wise at any given time. Document your progress to help you keep focused on your fitness goals.
Yep, cleaning counts as staying active. If you’re working from home a lot more these days, you’ve probably found plenty of areas that need some deep cleaning. Whether you sweep, mop, vacuum, or rearrange your closet, all of those counts as movement. Each activity burns calories, too.
How many calories can you burn? Check these activities out:
- Making beds: 2 calories per minute
- Vacuuming or mopping: 4 calories per minute
- Scrubbing surfaces or wiping counters: 4 calories per minute
- Climbing stairs with up to 15 pounds: 6 calories per minute
If you want to burn even more calories, add lunges as you perform each task. Folding clothes? Add squats as you lean down to get the next piece of clothing. Get cleaning to get your body in motion. You’ll also feel “lighter” with a cleaner, decluttered space.
Your body isn’t the only part of you that needs to stay active. In fact, when your mind is clear and focused, it makes it that much easier to stay motivated to workout. Some meditations are active, too. You might consider a walking meditation or even taking a few minutes before a yoga session to meditate.
The physical benefits of meditation include:
- May reduce chronic pain
- Reduced high blood pressure
- Minimized risk of heart disease
Feeling stressed? Consider walking it off. One study found those with psychological distress minimized their stress and improved their life quality by engaging in a mindful walking program. Any time your busy brain tries to convince you that you don’t have the time, set a timer for five minutes and try walking in silence. If you feel better, you may consider increasing the time immediately to continue on or add more time to your next session.
Stretch Throughout the Day
Stretching is a great way to move your body in an intentional way. It’s an excellent way to be physical, especially if you sit at a computer for most of the day. Stretching can improve balance, posture, and flexibility — all important fitness areas to focus on as the body ages.
Optimal times to stretch:
- Upon waking
- During a movie or show
- After prolonged periods of sitting
Can’t get away from your desk? There are still plenty of desk stretches you can do to help your body loosen up and feel better.
Enjoy More Time Outdoors
The great outdoors is great for a reason. You can generally get fresh air, sunshine, and an abundant amount of alone time in — all essential for optimal wellbeing.
Try these ideas outdoors to stay active:
- Walking meetings
Weather will obviously play a role in your activity type, but you can generally find a fun physical activity that can burn calories, too!
Remember Your Long-Term Goals
Marathoners don’t wake up and suddenly run the Boston Marathon. Even the fittest, most active people have to train for an event like a marathon. When you’re being hard on yourself and expect immediate results, remember that those results come over time.
Keep yourself motivated by:
- Writing down what you want to achieve - Create a list of goals for a year from now.
- Visualizing your success - Close your eyes and envision it. Or, make a vision board.
- Getting an accountability partner - When you partner with someone who has similar fitness goals, it makes it easier to stay on track.
- Look at your achievements - It’s important to look at how far you’ve come. That’s why fitness trackers (see #6) can be so powerful.
Don’t forget to break down your goals. Your long-term goals are great, but breaking them down into simple, easy-to-achieve baby steps makes it easier to stay motivated and active. Plan year-long goals, then reverse engineer and breakout your quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals to achieve the long-term ones.
Give Yourself Grace as You Learn How To Be More Active
Some days don’t go as planned. Even if you scheduled to hit that 8 o’clock virtual gym class but slept in instead because you didn’t sleep well, don’t beat yourself up.
Do your best to stick to your daily active schedule, but know that it won’t always happen. Instead, aim for being consistent and open to creative alternatives to be active.
If you missed your morning gym class, perhaps your entire family could do a 30-minute walk after dinner. Work in alternative options when you can. Be creative and flexible and know that any way you can move your body is a good thing.
When you keep yourself accountable but also offer yourself grace, it makes it easier to stick to your goals, including your physical activity goals.
Remember, it’s best to make a few small changes than to try and implement a bunch of new ideas at once. Even if you do something as simple as increasing the number of walks you take your dog on each day, that’s still a step in the right direction.
It’s your everyday actions that add up. Keep with it and you’ll start feeling better and no doubt will see your health improve, too!
What tips do you have for others who want to know how to be more active? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!