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Getting Active

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It's no big secret that leading an active lifestyle is good for us, right? We are inundated with information about health and fitness, but we still don't seem to get it.

It's no big secret that leading an active lifestyle is good for us, right? We are inundated with information about health and fitness, but we still don't seem to get it. More than 50 percent of Canadians are overweight and an even greater percentage are not physically fit. In addition, other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are on the rise. So, what's the problem? Maybe what we really need to start asking ourselves is, "What's holding me back from living a healthy and active life?"

Working in a physiotherapy clinic, I cannot recall how many times people have told me that they would start getting in shape once they felt better. My response was, they would feel better once they started being active.

Many of us have it backwards. We want to feel better about ourselves before we begin something, but we often don't feel better until we simply do it. This is especially true of physical activity. After you have finished a workout, have you ever told someone that you feel horrible? Probably not. Generally, we tend to tell others that we had a great workout or an invigorating run or walk.

There are a million different excuses as to why we do not embrace physical activity and some of them might even be valid. In our ever-increasing automated society, many jobs don't require any physical activity. Some of us don't have to do much physical work around the house either. Quite honestly, many of us have never been taught how to move our bodies! The good news is that you can start being active today and begin experiencing the tremendous benefits within a short time.

Strategy For Success

It has been said that the quality of the questions that we ask ourselves helps to determine the quality of the life we live. Start by asking yourself some good questions and go from there. Rather than saying "I don't know how to start being physically active," try asking, "What do I know about physical activity?" Or "How can I find out more about this?" Sometimes in life we have to push through a particular feeling or situation. Sure, we might be busy, afraid, intimidated, overwhelmed by life or simply even too tired to get outside, but if we can embrace these obstacles and overcome them, we have the opportunity for a much more gratifying lifestyle.

Gaining control over our circumstances and feelings can become truly life changing. The wonderful aspect of facing and overcoming obstacles is that it allows you to make the changes that you have desired for so long. It does not matter why you have not overcome these obstacles before, or even why they were there in the first place. What does matter is that you have identified them and overcome them.

The worst thing to do is put things off until tomorrow. This only leads to feeling worse and it wastes a lot of quality time in the process. If you are not leading an active life now, then ask yourself, when will you start being more active?

The Right Start

When you do decide to begin a new activity, choose something that you enjoy doing. It doesn't make sense to join a running club if you absolutely hate running. Do something you like. Maybe it's something you've always wanted to do, but you just never made it happen. Whatever the activity, the chances of you starting and maintaining it will drastically increase if you are doing something you enjoy. The great thing about this is that no one can tell you what activity you have to do. You can do whatever you want.

If you're still at the point where you are not totally convinced that you can fit some form of physical activity into your lifestyle, or perhaps you're not sure when you can start something new, consider the following experiment. Be honest with yourself and take an inventory of what you do with your time. Start a logbook and record how you spend your days. Do this for a week and then analyse the results. When you consider that walking around the block three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes only takes up about an hour of your week, or less than one per cent of your time, you may be able to squeeze some form of activity into your life.

If you want to feel better about yourself, reduce your risk of a serious health condition and have more general energy and passion for life, then consider your current level of physical activity. You do not have to make dramatic changes to achieve significant results. Consider what you really want out of life and commit to it wholeheartedly. Commit to it today and you can expect a healthy return on your investment.

Canada's Favourite Physical Recreation Activities

We are a nation of walkers and no wonder. We are blessed with an abundance of wide-open spaces and wilderness areas to explore. Even in the middle of a city, we can take a break from our busy work schedules and go for a walk to a city park or green space for lunch.

Favourite Activities for Adults

69% Walking
48% Gardening, yard work
29% Home exercise
24%Swimming
24% Bicycling
22%Social dancing
13% Golf
12%Jogging, running
11% Weight training
11% Fishing
8%Bowling
7%Exercise, classes, aerobics
7%Baseball, softball
6%In-line skating
5%Skating
4%Basketball
4% Hockey
4%Tennis
3% Volleyball
3% Alpine skiing

Source: Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institue, cflri.ca; National Population Health Survey, 2001

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