In the sports world, winning teams develop a game plan to win. When you want to make a change in your life, such as getting active, you also need a game plan to help you succeed.
This article will help you to set goals for becoming more active in a way thatís safe for you. The article also describes how the places where you live, learn, work, and play can support physical activity, making it easier for you to stick to your game plan.
Being active means you will be more healthy, have more energy, meet other people, and feel better about yourself. Now that you know why you want to get more active, you need a plan to get started.
Remember, you canít expect too much too soon. If you havenít been active for 10 years, you canít expect to run a marathon after a few weeks of exercise. Here are some tips to help you set goals that you can achieve.
- Think about how much time you need and when you can be free for activity each day.
- Ask your family and friends to support you.
- Find out if you have a neighbour, friend, or work mate who would like to join you.
- Find out about easy, fun ways to be active near where you live and work.
Itís a good idea to think about your goals for becoming active, so you can get from where you are now to where you want to be. Lots of people find SMART goals helpful.
For example, you could set a goal of going for a brisk, 30-minute walk, five days a week, all year long. This goal is a SMART goal because it lets you decide when you will walk (early in the morning, during your noon hour, or after youíve put the kids to bed), ensures that you do enough walking to make it worth doing, and gives you two days off.
Make sure itís safe for you to exercise. Physical activity is safe for most people, but if youíre unsure, answer these questions to see if you should check with your doctor before starting. (See the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire in the LEARN MORE section below.)
Safety also means wearing the right gear such as
- comfortable shoes, sneakers, or boots;
- clothing suited to the weather (layers are a good idea in cool weather);
- sunscreen and a hat (even when it is cloudy); and
- safety gear when needed (e.g., helmet, knee pads, wrist guards).
Itís important to drink the right type and amount of fluid. According to sport scientists, you should drink about two glasses of fluid (about 500 mL) two hours before exercising, and enough fluid during exercise to replace the water you lose through sweating.
Water is fine to drink if you are exercising for less than an hour. Sport drinks or juice mixed with water are only needed if you participate in intense exercise that lasts more than an hour. These drinks give you the sugars (calories) and salt you lose during exercise. But you don't want those extra calories if you don't need them.
With a Little Help from Your FriendsÖ
When setting up your game plan, remember that itís easier to get active when the places where you live, learn, work, and play support physical activity. For instance, it will help you stick to your game plan if:
- your friends and family are active;
- your neighbourhood is a safe place to walk, bike, and play;
- your schools and workplaces provide opportunities to be active;
- your community has walking and biking trails, parks, and playgrounds that are pleasant, well lit, and safe;
- you know what activity to do and have the skills to enjoy doing it; and
- you have enough money to take lessons, go to facilities, and join clubs.
Getting involved in your school, workplace, and community to make them places that support active living is a good way to help yourself and others stay active.
Getting Ahead of the Game
Putting together an activity game plan is an important first step for getting started. A game plan helps you become active, so that you can be safe and have a good time. Check out our tips for staying active, so that you can be prepared for little setbacks. Make a game plan to win at making active living part your way of life!
Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire
If you havenít been active for a while, take this test to see if you should visit your doctor before beginning your new active lifestyle.
Why Am I Inactive?
The Alberta Centre for Active Living offers ways to overcome some common barriers to being active.