How to Become More Active and Stick to Exercise

The reasons for being active everyday are numerous, a stronger heart, improved mental fitness, reduced risk of many diseases, as well as helping us to age well.

But if you’re someone who doesn’t (yet!) love physical activity, it can be hard to make exercise plans which stick.

Here are some great tips from Marie Murphy, Professor of Exercise and Health at the University of Ulster.


Find Activities Which You Enjoy

Just as you would savour the adventure of new cuisines, approach physical activities with curiosity. Experiment with various exercises and adopt the ones that you enjoy.

If you don’t naturally love running, cycling, swimming or a particular sport, there are still plenty of ways that you can build activity and movement into your day!


Build Short Bursts of Activity Into Your Day

If things like swimming or running aren't your thing, try to build short bursts of vigorous activity into your normal daily routine.

For some vigorous activity you could run up the stairs or walk quickly. If you’re watching TV try standing up and sitting down ten times during each ad break. You can also do calf or toe raises while you’re sitting down. And while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil try some side leg raises.


Focus on Your Muscles

We all know that aerobic activity is good for us but another pillar of a healthy activity routine includes strengthening our muscles twice a week.

We start to lose muscle mass from our mid-thirties, which means as we age we lose balance and strength. But muscles also contributes to having higher metabolic rates, so it’s easier to maintain weight as well as control our blood sugar levels. Doing some squats (while making dinner?!) is a great way to maintain muscles mass as it involves two large muscles, and it also get our heart rates up for some cardio exercise at the same time.


Develop a Positive Relationship With Activity

Lots of people think that exercise is hard or uncomfortable and that it can feel like a punishment. But focusing on the positive way that it can make you feel, is a better way to approach activity.

Don't slog your guts out doing activity which you don’t like, find something that you enjoy and makes your happy. That could be dancing, playing badminton, roller skating, or walking with a friend, the world's your oyster. After all, as Marie Murphy says, the best exercise is the one you do.


Embrace the Power of Walking

Don’t underestimate the power of a brisk walk.

Not only is walking accessible to most people, it also offers many of the same benefits as running. It gets the heart pumping, it's a handy way to get around, it gets you outside and you can also do it with friends and family.


Be Active When Working From Home

With so many of us now working from home and no longer doing our usual commutes, it’s easy to start the pass the whole day sitting for hours staring at a screen.

Try to reinsert activity into your day when you’re working from home. For example, go for a walk or cycle before starting work. Set reminders to stand up regularly and break up your sitting time. Drink lots of water so that you have to get up for refills and toilet breaks. And think of other ways that you could design activity, and not sitting, into your day. Check out our other ideas for ways to be more active at work.


The More the Merrier

Being active with other people and setting dates to go out together will help you stay true to your plans.

Try to create a routine and a commitment to someone else, as it’s harder to let someone else down than yourself. For many people, it’ll also be more fun to be active with a friend. You can also join an exercise class at a local gym, or take up a physical activity like tai chi, karate or yoga, as the commitment to a set time often helps motivate people to actually do it. 

Find Out More

Learn how Active Teams boosts workplace health and performance using 'The Miracle Cure' of activity.