by Danielle Labonte, RD, MPH, MAN, Public Health Nutritionist.
Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit
Increasing physical activity is another area that people often want to change in the New Year. Similar to eating, this is usually linked to wanting to change how our bodies look. Let’s start off by acknowledging that most people do not get enough physical activity in general, but what we want to avoid is linking physical activity to changing the way our bodies look. Research shows that this can actually demotivate people and create a negative relationship with being active. Instead, think about being active for reasons aside from how we look. For example, our mental health, stress management, blood sugar control, heart and bone health, as well as building and maintaining strength, flexibility, mobility, and independence as we age.
Creating goals for ourselves to increase our activity is beneficial as it can lead to healthy habits to include more movement throughout our week, and including a variety of activities helps to improve our strength, flexibility, endurance, and mental health. It is recommended that adults get two and a half hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. This can be in smaller chunks of ten minutes or more throughout the week, or in larger chunks less often. Whatever works for you! It is also recommended that we do strength activities for our muscles and bones at least twice a week.
Some tips to help you make this a habit include:
- scheduling it into your day; maybe you do something every morning, or certain days of the week;
- being active with others; you could join a class or find a workout buddy; and
- setting small, achievable goals to work towards; for example, walking longer, further, or faster each week.
For more information, visit our Health Unit website at healthunit.org, follow us on Facebook and X, or give us a call at 1-800-660-5853.