Sedentary to Active: Increasing Your Activity Level in Three WeeksPosted: Sep 19 in Activity Recommendations, Health And Wellness, Weight loss by Dr. Lazarus
If you want to lose weight, increase your strength and muscle mass, and improve your health overall, you have to start moving. For many, it is difficult to go from being sedentary to active, for a variety of reasons, but most of those reasons can be overcome. Here are three easy steps to help you become more active.
Week 1: Increase your self-awareness. This doesn’t mean everything should be all about you, or that you should become egotistical. It means you need to become more aware of the things you do each day, how you do those things, and how much time you spend doing them. Write down what you do throughout the day. List the activity, such as going through your email, watching television or making the bed. List how much time you spent on the activity and note whether the activity was active or sedentary. Checking email or watching television, of course, is sedentary while making the bed is active.
At the end of each day, go over your notes. Where you see sedentary activities, write down what active activities you could have done instead at that time, or how you could have turned the sedentary activity into a more active activity. At the end of this first week, you will be more aware of how you are spending your time, and how active or inactive you actually are. Looking over the notes from the week, you will most likely find you were more active at the end of the week than you were at the beginning. This happens because you are more aware of how sedentary your life was, and you are subconsciously making lifelong changes.
Week 2: Listen to your body. Continue documenting your days and start listening to your body. When you do physical activities, are you experiencing any pain? Are you getting out of breath too easily? When you get out of breath, is it taking too long to recover? Are there things you cannot easily do, or cannot do at all, such as squatting or bending at the waist?
You may want to see your doctor for a checkup. Let him or her know that you are trying to be more active, and the problems you are encountering in your endeavors. Your doctor can determine if something is wrong, or not, and refer you for tests if they are unsure. Work with your doctor to find ways you can be more active if there are health problems, without putting your health at greater risk. For example, your doctor may determine that walking is better than running for you, or miniature golf is better than regular golf. He may feel you need even more strength training, or that strength training isn’t right for you, based on your health.
If you are not experiencing any problems, you still need to listen to your body and add information to the notes you are keeping. For example, when you note that you walked for an hour, write down how you felt during that walk, both physically and mentally, as well as how you felt at the end of your walk. You may even find it helpful to note how you were feeling before your walk. Maybe you felt stressed, and you weren’t looking forward to any physical exercise. You got up and went for that walk anyway, and as you were walking, you noticed you weren’t feeling quite as stressed. At the end of the walk, you were happy you did it; the stress was gone, and you may have even thought up a solution to the problem or issue that was causing you stress during your walk.
Week 3: Note the changes. By this time, you will start noticing both physical and mental changes. Mentally, you should feel happier. You should be experiencing less stress. You should notice that your thinking is clearer than it was before. Physically, you are probably noticing that you have become a bit stronger, you may have lost some weight, and you may have noticed that you do not get winded as easily as you did before.
Hopefully, when you look over your notes for the previous two weeks, you discover that you spend more of your waking hours being active than you do being sedentary. If this is the case, you have succeeded in ditching your sedentary life for a more active lifestyle. You should continue to keep notes or a journal documenting your activities and physical and mental feelings in relation to those activities, including the sedentary ones.
By continuing to document your activities, you will find that you are being more accountable to yourself, and you will be more likely to continue being active. When you find that you took a day off from being active and chose to be a couch potato for the day, don’t be too hard on yourself. We all need some downtime here and there. But the next day, make sure you get up off the couch and start doing physical activities once again.