Top tips for staying active
So you’ve started getting active, and you love it – what next? If you want to make sure your new, healthier habits last a lifetime, rather than becoming a quick fad, try our top tips for staying active in the long term:
1. Take it easy If you overdo it at the beginning, it’s easy to get demoralised and give up. Start small and increase gradually, and you’ll build a habit for life. For example, our beginner jogging programme starts with just 30-second stretches of jogging at a time, with walk breaks in between to catch your breath.
2. Little and often Adults should ideally do 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of activity each week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. That means you can make a real difference to your health without spending hours in the gym. Taking a brisk walk around the block – fast enough to make you slightly breathless – is enough. Use the stairs, walk instead of driving, do an online exercise video at home – whatever works for you.
3. Exercise with others Getting active in a group can make the whole experience more enjoyable. You’ve time for a blether as you go, and can encourage each other through the tough bits. If you’ve made a date to meet a friend or group you’re less likely to cancel at the last minute.
4. Be specific Resolving “to get fit” is very vague, and it’s hard to know when you’re achieved it. Pick something specific and measurable, so you can get a real buzz from completing it. Decide to run a certain distance, complete 10 weeks of an exercise class, lose a set amount of weight – all these are measurable and give you something to work towards. Check our our Setting a Challenge page for more advice.
5. Choose an event If your chosen activity is jogging, signing up for an organised run is a great target. Events like the jogscotland Challenge Series, Race for Life and parkrun welcome people of all abilities, including walkers and joggers, not just competitive runners.
6. Keep track Having a poster on the wall where you can tick off every step on the way to your goal will help you see you’re making progress, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
7. Have a reason Think about exactly why you want to get active. To keep up with your children or grandchildren? To raise money for a charity that means a lot to you? To improve a certain aspect of your physical or mental health? Knowing why you’re doing it can keep you going in tough moments.
8. Learn to ‘fail’ If you set yourself a target and don’t reach it, don’t feel bad. Losing heart as soon as you miss a target means you’re more likely to give up. Just look at what you could do better, remind yourself of all the things you did do right, and make a new plan.
9. Celebrate! When you’ve hit your target, reward yourself with something you really appreciate. You’ve earned it.
10. Keep going – and encourage others Once you’ve achieved what you set out to do, use that excitement and motivation to set a new target – you’re on your way! If you can persuade friends or family to join you, even better – you’ll get a real buzz from seeing them progress!