Initiating and Maintaining a Lifestyle Activity Program

One potential challenge to adopting a lifestyle activity program is to monitor progress effectively. Most individuals overestimate their levels of physical activity by about 50 percent. Therefore, when beginning a lifestyle activity program, it is important to objectively determine that planned increases in activity are actually achieved. This can be accomplished through record keeping.

Keep a Physical Activity Log
To begin tracking your activity, record your current activity using the Physical Activity Log provided below. The number of minutes of moderate-intensity activity in each hour should be recorded on the form. For example, if Maria takes a brisk, four-minute walk at 9:30 a.m. to deliver some papers, but otherwise sits at her desk from 9 to 10 a.m., she will record four minutes of moderate-intensity activity. Individuals report that using a timer on a digital watch or computer is a helpful reminder.

As with any type of self-monitoring, daily results are often surprising. A review of a few days of recording activity will identify the amount of time spent in sedentary activities. The Physical Activity Log also helps you identify times that activity can be planned into home or work schedules.

Print copy

Use a Pedometer or Step Counter
Pedometers or step counters are very helpful for measuring the amount of daily physical activity. When people begin recording their steps each day, they report anywhere from less than 1,000 steps (“on Saturday I just lay on the couch all day watching TV”) to more than 10,000 steps (“I got my walks in at work and also cut the grass”). The average is about 2,000 steps a day for beginners and should increase slowly to a minimum of 8,000 steps a day. Step counters can be especially effective for people who travel a lot and find themselves sitting in planes and airports for long periods of time. Low, daily step counts serve as helpful reminders to get up and walk, rather than sitting and waiting for the next flight.

Start Slowly
Sedentary people who begin exercising at moderate-intensity levels are more likely to adhere to a program than those who begin exercising vigorously. People who start exercising five or more days per week, or at intensities that they perceive as being “hard” are also more likely to abandon their efforts to become more active. Increasing lifestyle activity slowly from baseline levels (e.g., about 5 percent) each week will help reduce the risk of injury and may encourage people to continue to exercise.

December 15th, 2010 - Posted in Sport | | Comments Off

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