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Building on Your Active Lifestyle

Way to go! You’re moving -- accumulating about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity four or more days each week. The next goal is to keep it up and build from there.

Make it a habit

Whether you’re brand new to an exercise routine or have been burning it up for months, making your active lifestyle a lifelong habit is important. Here are some habit-forming tips:

  • Link to other habits. Building new habits can be hard, but it’s easier if you link new behaviors to already established ones. Do you watch your favorite TV programs a few nights a week? Watch them while burning calories on your home exercise bike or the gym treadmill. Do you brush your teeth first thing in the morning before getting in the shower? Put a set of push-ups or squats in between the two.
  • Schedule it. You probably don’t skip your dentist appointments or meetings at work. If it’s on your calendar, you go. Do the same for your workouts. Plan it in advance, put it on your calendar and do it.
  • Raise the priority. Think about all the benefits of physical activity. Not only are there health benefits, but activity enhances how you feel, how you look and how you think! Internalizing the value of activity will help it become a higher priority in your life.

Mix it up

Activity doesn’t always have to be structured exercise. Consider incorporating these three types of activity into your days:

  • Natural Activity: move more by incorporating activity into your everyday routine (examples: parking farther away, walking while talking on the phone).
  • Playful Activity: engage in activities that move your body, give you pleasure and can provide quality time with family or friends (examples: playing tennis, dancing).
  • Planned Activity: take part in cardio, resistance training or stretching sessions (examples: going on a 20-min walk, doing a 10-min exercise DVD workout).

Build from there

Get FIT. To get more fit, you have to continuously challenge your body. Challenge not only keeps you from falling into a workout routine rut, but gives you better health and weight loss results over time. Think FIT to get fit:

  • F = Frequency: Increase your overall activity time. Add more sessions like a 15-min walk at lunchtime or add in more days, for example, taking a spin class on Tuesday nights.
  • I = Intensity: Boost the intensity of your exercise sessions. Incorporate short running intervals (start with 1 minute) to your weekend walk, or pick a route with more hills. Also try downloading some fast-paced music for that extra kick of energy to workout harder next time.
  • T = Time: lengthen the time of your activity. Add one more circuit to your cardio/resistance routine or an extra loop on your bike route.

Making your active lifestyle a habit is important. It’s key to helping you achieve your weight loss goal, improving your health, enhancing your quality of life (especially in the golden years) and keeping off the weight you are working so hard to lose.

Note: Be sure to discuss your activity goals with your physician, especially if you are older than 40, smoke, or have pulmonary disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or musculoskeletal disease.<