It Takes Patience to be Active for a Lifetime
|Valerie Lawson - Exercise Physiologist|
Written by Valerie Lawson.
What I have learned this month is to have patience. Patience truly is a virtue, and if one can employ it while making healthy changes or making/breaking a habit, the desired outcomes are more likely to be realized. Yet what I have come to understand is that beginning a program of physical activity is not only uncomfortable in many situations, but also discouraging when you do not experience any immediate benefits from becoming active.
Though we are accustomed to immediate gratification or discomfort in expecting to know instantly if something is or isn't working, this knowledge is not always readily available. Such expectations apply to making healthy lifestyle changes. For example, it can take years to realize changes in your cholesterol levels, but those 20-30 points can eventually lengthen and improve the quality of your life.
Similarly, blood pressure can improve by 10 mm/mc, and effects may not be apparent immediately, but over time, positive changes, such as the reduction or elimination of medication, may materialize.
The same thing is true with physical activity. The benefits that we hear about, such as sleeping better, having more energy, improving muscle strength or flexibility, improving ability to conduct daily activities, losing weight, and preventing bone loss all take time to recognize. Certainly, if you have been inactive for 20 years, it might take time to become active on a daily basis and/or experience the health benefits.
But if I could just offer some advice, try it for 30 days. It has been said that it takes 30 days to make or break a habit: I challenge you to trust yourself and believe that you can do anything for one month. Start this month by being active each and every day for 30 days. This activity can include, but is not limited to increasing your pedometer reading; going for an extra 2-3 walks or wheels around the block after meals; swimming, biking, or dancing more than the day before; participating in organized physical activity such as a water class; or using equipment at a facility. The important thing is to increase your daily physical activity for 30 days. Give it some time, as the benefits of being physically active might not appear tomorrow, the next day, or even next week, but for improved quality of life, embrace the challenge of 30 days and make a habit of being physically active each and every day of your life.