The not-so-sporty person’s guide to getting active
If you’re convinced that exercise just isn’t for you, you may be in for a surprise! Find out how taking a positive approach to fitness and starting small can help you fall head over heels for an active lifestyle.
There’s a lot of mythology around fitness, and many of us just assume that we’re “not the sporty type”, especially if we come from a not-so-sporty family, or hated PE at school. This myth can be a real barrier to getting started, holding us back from discovering the truth—that activity really is for everyone!
In evolutionary terms, the human body was designed to move—to find food or escape from danger. But as food could be scarce, we also evolved with an innate drive to conserve energy, which is one reason we don’t always feel like exercising, even when we know it will make us feel better. The key is getting off the starting blocks, and doing that is as much about our mind as it is our body.
The active mindset
It’s official: the “no pain, no gain” approach to fitness is as dated as leg warmers! Instead, starting small and seeing gradual improvement means you’re more likely to stick with it. It could be as simple as getting off the bus a stop earlier, or taking a short walk at lunchtime, and building on that. Anything counts, because every movement, however small, has a beneficial effect on your body. That’s why Slimming World’s Body Magic program helps you develop active habits gradually, until they start to become second nature.
If you’re not currently active, just getting up on your feet and walking around will make a difference. Adjust your mindset so that you “think active”, noticing all the possibilities there are for you to move more. Could you walk or cycle rather than use the car for a short journey, make time for 15 minutes of energetic vacuuming, or walk around the room while you’re chatting on your cell phone? Think of activity as a friend who can help you to reach your goals.
The bigger picture
Once you’ve started being active, acknowledging every success, however small you think it is, will help to keep your motivation high. A lot of the benefits of fitness can seem far off in the future, so it’s important to pay attention to the “little wins”. Focus on what you did, rather than what you didn’t do. Going for a short walk might not seem like a big deal in itself, but once you start tracking all those little walks, you’ll begin to see a bigger picture.
If you’d like to step it up a level by joining a fitness class, but feel nervous about the idea of exercising in front of people, find out which activities your friends enjoy. It could be a great way to discover something that you too might fall in love with. Do you know someone who used to avoid exercise, but now loves being active? Make the most of their experience by asking what worked for them. They’ll probably be more than happy to encourage you or join in with you as you get started. Alternatively, teaming up with another new starter can help. You can support one another and you’re less likely to cancel if you’ll be letting someone else down.
Finding your fit
We’re much more likely to make activity a lifelong habit when we like doing it. So focus on finding something you genuinely enjoy and you’ll want to keep coming back for more. Everyone is different, so if you’ve tried to get fit before and it didn’t work, it could be that you just haven’t found the right thing for you yet. Some people love the freedom of doing workouts at home, while others prefer the structure of a group exercise class. Or, if you’d like to spend more time outdoors, hiking or joining a local cycling club might be appealing. For others, there has to be a fun factor, which might mean a dance class or a competitive game of basketball. For those who are more goal-driven, training for a charity run can be just the motivation they need.
Research shows that being active boosts self-esteem, mood, and energy levels, so it becomes a virtuous circle—you feel better, so you feel more like being active, and that makes you feel even better! Every body—yours included—was designed to move, and each time you do you’re getting fitter, supporting your health and weight loss, and helping to nurture your self-esteem. So start today, and you might find that you surprise yourself!
If you’re planning to start a new exercise program, it’s always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider first—especially if you have an existing health condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.