The incorporation of exercise as a lifestyle behavior is not easy for many individuals. Barriers to exercise may include lack of enjoyment, low motivation, negative experiences, reduced access to facilities, high costs, low social and cultural support, and time constraints. By following the 8 steps mentioned below, you can increase exercise activity levels and learn how to manage your waistline for life.
The American College of Sports Medicine indicates that progressively increasing exercise to 3.5 – 5 hours per week facilitates the long-term maintenance of weight loss. The frequency of exercise should vary from 3 to 7 sessions per week and last 30 to 60 minutes. The latter depends the intensity and type of physical activity. You should maintain a heart rate between 60 to 85 beats per minute, which corresponds on average to 70% of maximum aerobic capacity. This level physical activity should produce an energy deficit of at least 400 calories per day, which induces weight loss, but maintains muscle mass and prevents weight cycling. The combination of a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity is recommended since it produces weight loss, decreases abdominal fat, and increases cardiorespiratory fitness.
8 Steps to Increase Physical Activity in Your Life
- Set realistic expectations to improve chances for success and prevent potential negative effects of failure.
- Research the benefits of exercise and the need to increase activity levels to maintain healthy weight loss.
- Evaluate the reasons for and against adopting an active lifestyle (e.g., develop a pros and cons table).
- Start at a low level and gradually increase physical activity to 150 – 200 minutes per week.
- Increase lifestyle activities such as climbing stairs, gardening, riding a bike and walking the dog.
- Monitor yourself because it raises awareness of exercise habits and identifies ways to maximize your energy deficit.
- Remove triggers of inactivity and increase positive cues (e.g., lay out exercise clothes before bedtime).
- Involve significant others to create a supportive environment, reinforce positive behavior, and encourage group exercise.
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