Valley City Times-Record

Your Health: Finding solutions to obstacles in your physical activity journey


Can you tell me what the formula is for how much physical activity you should get each week? If so, you likely know that 150 minutes per week is the goal. You can easily use a formula to figure that this can look like 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week.

While this can inform goal setting and your action planning, going from low exercise minutes per week to 150 minutes per week almost overnight can be too big of a goal. As we enter the end of January and February is on the horizon, are you finding that your best laid plans or resolution­s are starting to wear off?

Behavior choice is much more complicate­d than setting a resolution and hoping that you can stick to it. While we often think of healthy eating and exercise as habits, both behaviors are more complicate­d than a simple habit of flossing your teeth right before or after brushing your teeth. What happens when life throws a curve ball?

As author, health coach and researcher, Michelle Segar, PhD suggests that the choice to exercise requires executive decision making. Sometimes this means that life happens and you need to adjust your plans to accommodat­e for decision disrupters. As you build a new routine that requires more choices, consider the long game and taking a slow and steady approach.

Are your best laid plans running into some unforeseen obstacles? If so, have you taken time to identify what obstacle is getting in your way? What solutions could you try? Feel free to brainstorm your own solutions! Check out these samples below:

I’m so tired when I get home from work.

Schedule physical activity for times in the day or week when you feel energetic.

Add physical activity to your workday by walking during your lunch break and taking the stairs when possible.

Try an active break – add physical activity to time at your desk or during your breaks at work.

I don’t have time to be physically active.

Monitor your daily activities – is there time where you can add a 10-minute slot for physical activity?

Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule by writing it on your calendar and schedule around this.

Select activities, such as walking, jogging or stair climbing that you can do based on the time you have available (ie, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc.).

I’m not coordinate­d.

Skip the dance class. Go for a walk or bike instead.

If you’re interested in group fitness classes, but need to build your confidence, try the activity at home first. Weather conditions

Develop a set of regular activities that are always available regardless of weather (ie, aerobic dance, stair climbing, indoor cycling, etc.)

Prepare for the wide range of weather conditions in North Dakota. Will the weather be better at another time of day (ie, an afternoon walk instead of early morning)? Are you able to adjust your outfit for the weather conditions?

Addressing the obstacles that get in the way of physical activity takes time and willingnes­s to problem solve, if you are looking for creative solutions and need more ideas, ask local fitness instructor­s or City-County Health District at 845-8518. If you’d like to read from Michelle Segar, her book is The Joy Choice: How to Finally Achieve Lasting Changes in Eating and Exercise.

Emma Tufte is the On the Move Coordinato­r at City-County Health District.

Your Health is coordinate­d by CityCounty Health District.

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