Lorn Healthy Options weekly health tip – January 20

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This year I will get fitter.

How many times have you chosen that as your New Year’s resolution or heard friends and family set this goal for the 12 months ahead?

Around 80 per cent of us tend to fail by week three so what’s going on? Is regular activity that difficult or perhaps could we increase our chances of success by changing the processes and systems we use to develop a new healthy habit?

Here’s a few simple tips which may help improve your chances of developing a new activity programme.

Make your sessions easily achievable – start with short sessions which can be achieved even on the days when your motivation may be waning.

Master the art of turning up first, even if your sessions last as little as two minutes. Once you identify as someone who is active regularly the length and difficulty of your sessions can be increased gradually.

Don’t see all activity as formal exercise. All activity counts. It doesn’t have to be done in a formal setting like a leisure centre or gym. Walking, cycling, jogging, swimming or gardening outside are a great alternative and just as effective in many ways.

Having said that, we do live in a part of the world where winter days are short, cold and often wet so choose an activity and location where you will feel comfortable and safe.

Oban’s Atlantis Leisure provides a controlled and dry environment even when the snow is falling outside and is worth considering when starting off in the colder months.

Track your progress. Make use of that new calendar you got for Christmas by marking an ‘X’ on it every day you carry out physical activity.

This way you can see your progress which can motivate you to keep going on the tough days and if the rest of the family can see it, there’s a little more pressure to fill the next box with an ‘X’.  Then all you have to do is try not to break the chain and, if you do, don’t miss twice in a row.

Join a group of people whose normal behaviour is closer to the identity you wish to adopt. If you want to exercise to music, find a suitable class that is easy to access. If you want to walk more, join a rambling group. Social interaction can also be a powerful motivator and lift your mental health.

Those struggling with a long-term health condition who need guided exercise advice can ask their GP for a referral to Healthy Options. Make use of the groups close to you and benefit from a shared direction of travel.

Don’t undervalue a half session. Lost days hurt you more than successful days help you. Don’t underestimate a shorter or easier session than what you had planned. This maintains momentum and strengthens your identity as someone who has mastered the art of turning up. It allows you to put a satisfying ‘X’ on that calendar.

Good luck everyone. The Healthly Options team wishes you an active and healthy 2022.

Rob Graham, lead exercise professional, Healthy Options.