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7 ways to get more active this year

jump feet (cropped)

We know, we know, you’re sick of the 'new year, new you' articles that are everywhere you look this January.

But building a bit more activity into your lifestyle will really benefit both your heart and your head.

It doesn’t have to be about joining the gym, lifting weights or running marathons. If these are activities you’ve never enjoyed, then nothing is going to change now just because the calendar says it’s January 2018. You might go all out for a week or two, but let’s be honest, the chances are by the time February comes knocking, a better offer will come up, or it’ll be just too hard to get out of bed one morning, and you’ll miss one session, then another….

Sound familiar? So, what simple steps could you take this year to make it different?

Don’t get hung up on losing weight - physically activity alone is unlikely to help you achieve your weight loss goals. However, leading a more active lifestyle can have many more health benefits including reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. 

It has also been found to reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety.

Our top tips to getting more active in 2018

Find an activity you enjoy.

What will keep you motivated? Try something new, or decide whether you’d prefer to exercise inside or outside, on your own or in a group. Instead of the gym try martial arts or a dance class, revisit a sport you used to play like football or netball, or just get out for a lunchtime walk with colleagues. The best activity for you is the one you still participate in regularly in six months time.

Walk more.

You don’t have to pound the trails: park further away in car parks, take the stairs or walk the longer way around the building. Get away from your desk and walk at lunch time, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Walking helps to improve your health, physically and mentally, is free and requires no expensive equipment - in fact, walk an extra mile a day and this time next year you could be 10lb lighter.

Build up gradually...

Any block of physical activity that lasts more than 10 minutes will start to help benefit your health. If you want to take up running, popular programmes like the Couch to 5km will give you an idea of how to build up exercise levels safely.

Book your slot!

Look at your week and figure out when it’s easiest to fit things in - up and about before work, at lunch time, or straight from work? Schedule your activity and give it the same priority as anything else in your diary. A regular exercise class or buddying up with a friend for a session may also keep you motivated.

Make family time more active.

Taking the children to the park, swimming or out on your bikes or for a walk gives you all a chance to be more active - and cut down on that screen time.

At home...

Stand up and wander whilst talking on the phone, do body weight exercises  like sit ups, press ups or planks during TV advert breaks. There are also tons of free online workouts which offer plenty of variety - YouTube or Fitness Blender are good places to start.

At work...

Get up and speak face to face with colleagues rather than email, use the stairs rather than the lift, take a walking meeting, or get outside in your lunch break for a run or a walk.

Good luck!

Jo Grant is LionHeart’s mental health project co-ordinator, and previously worked in sport and exercise development in the public sector. She has a particular interest in the link between exercise and mental wellbeing.

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