10 ways to make physical activity a habit and gain better health – 09/01/2021

On the weekend, you sort out your clothes, your best sneakers and do your workout. But only after a week (or more) do you practice physical activity again. This “routine” is far from ideal, since the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends 150 to 300 minutes (2:30 to 5:00) of practice during the week. The problem is that, for some people, the habit of exercising can be difficult.

Even knowing that the practice is good for your health, creating this routine is where things start to get complicated. There are several factors that make it difficult to exercise consistency. One of them is this “anxiety” to have quick results in a short time, according to Marcelo Zanetti, professor of physical education at Universidade São Judas (SP).

“This is one of the great challenges of many scientists: the change of behavior in physical exercise. People often want to change drastically and abruptly. Changing the routine drastically makes it difficult to maintain it”, he says.

According to the physical education professional, on average, 50% of people give up physical activities before 3 months of continuous practice — a very significant number. But then, is there a way to create this habit and maintain it for the long term? The answer is yes!

There is no cake recipe, everyone will find their way to do it. An analogy quoted by experts is to think about when you brush your teeth: it’s something so routine that you don’t even think about it before, you just go and brush it, right? The practice of physical activity must be seen in the same way.

In addition, the habit brings several benefits to health as a whole and that go far beyond aesthetic changes. “You improve your disposition, mood, sleep. All of this by maintaining regular exercises”, explains Leo Fukuda, a physical education professional from USP (University of São Paulo) and physical trainer for health manager Alice.

Now let’s get down to business, okay? If you want to make physical activity a habit, here are tips guided by experts consulted by Live well. Remembering that it is always recommended to have a check-up beforehand and, preferably, to receive guidance from professionals.

1. Choose something you like

“No pain, no gain?” Forget it. It sounds obvious, but it is important that you look for some activity that you primarily enjoy doing and enjoy. It’s no use doing something “forced”, because that’s when the routine becomes really untenable. It’s worth walking, dancing lessons, jumping rope, riding a bike, playing volleyball, doing yoga or Pilates… You’re the boss!

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Image: iStock

2. Go little by little, take your time

It is also not possible to arrive full on the first day of the activity you set out to do. You need to go little by little, with goals that are achievable and closer to your reality. This, even, can have an opposite effect than expected because it is difficult to maintain this “heavy” routine in the long term.

3. Don’t compare

Do you keep comparing yourself to your little friend who is pulling more iron than you? Or running too fast on the treadmill? Do not do this. Learn that everyone has their own pace and goal. This comparison can make you stop doing physical activity. So don’t rush, go slow. One day at a time.

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Image: iStock

4. Create incentives

“Today I’m going to treadmill listening to the new episode of my favorite podcast. If the activity in question allows, separate playlists special for the moment. This is also true for podcasts and series episodes. Over time, the activity will become easier to implement in your routine, you will see!

5. Use an app

For certain activities, such as running, walking or cycling, you can track your performance using mobile apps. This is interesting because you follow your performance and, with that, create new goals. The apps are also nice for those who like to train alone at home, as they offer a wide range of exercises — including yoga.

6. New routes, new paths

Those who practice outdoor activities have an advantage: discovering new places. It sounds simple, but exploring the neighborhood can be a great incentive to make physical activity more constant. Create challenges, such as “today I’m going to visit this park” or “tomorrow I can take this route through the square in X place”. Get tired of the same path, just change.

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Image: iStock

7. Seek friends who encourage you

Having an environment that encourages the practice of physical activities is essential to make them a habit. Arrange with a colleague—friends, friends, family, etc—to exercise together. You can go for a walk, schedule a day of training in pairs at the gym, do yoga in the park or even ride a bike on the bike path/cycle lane. With this constant stimulation, in addition to being an “excuse” to kill the longing, it can be a great way to keep exercise in your routine.

8. Test which time works for you

A common phrase is, “I can’t get up early to exercise.” But who says it has to be in the morning? —Of course, going for a walk may be better during the day and not at night (see the pros and cons of each time). The point is that you can fit the activity into the time that makes the most sense to you, such as the lunch period.

9. Think it’s your time

It’s not always easy to find time to do physical activity, but remember that this is your time (even if you are accompanied). How many times a week do you do something just for yourself? Think that exercising, in addition to aesthetic issues, is also a form of self-care. So try to incorporate them into your routine—not that you need to leave an alarm clock or reminder in your calendar to remind you.

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Image: Getty Images

10. Tired? change activity

There are people who get tired of the activity in a short time, but there are so many options that you can try new things. If your profile is more weight training and heavy training, why not try the functional circuit or crossfit? Tired of the bike? Have you ever thought about trying skates? Academies often offer different types of classes. Go test it!

exercise is medicine

This report is part of the campaign of Live well Exercise É Remédio, which aims to emphasize the importance of physical activity for health and give tips and ideas to combat sedentary lifestyles.

The contents address the importance of physical activity to prevent and treat diseases, the signs your body gives when you don’t move enough, tips to make exercise a habit, and find out which one suits you best, essential care to get started to move, including in old age and inspiring reports from people who have treated serious health issues with physical activity. But there’s so much more. Check out all the campaign content here.

This is the third campaign in a series of Live well which has brought thematic content to help fight the problems that many people face in their daily lives and contribute to your health and well-being.

The first was Overcome Postpartum Depression, held in March; and the second was “Have a Healthy Mouth” in June.