Begin with one change

Janet Cranston Fit for Life
Janet Cranston
Fit for Life

You may need to make many changes to reach your desired goal, but take one step at a time and watch improvements come.

When you think about all the changes you want to make in your life, the task can seem daunting. There’s so much, in fact, that it becomes an overwhelming burden weighing on your conscience, and many of us quit even before beginning. The easy part is figuring out what you need to change. The hard part is actually making the change. The good news is that making just one change at a time can have a positive impact on your life.

Begin with one change at a time. Creating good habits are worth the effort.
Begin with one change at a time. Creating good habits are worth the effort.

Take your health, for example. You may need to lose weight; have high blood pressure, high blood sugar and a poor diet and smoke; or have many other habits and health conditions that need attention. Begin working on the situation by making one change that will have a significant effect on your health, make it a habit and then move on to your next challenge.

If you are looking to make a change to your health, a good first step is to reduce your sedentary behaviour and increase your physical activity. The biggest health gain for someone who is not physically active comes from reducing the amount of time you spend in a sedentary position. Some of the benefits of this one change are that you lower the risk of developing chronic disease and mortality, improve your sleep, feel better and brighten your outlook on life.

Eighty-five per cent of Canadian adults spend most of their waking hours sitting or lying down. Simply by getting up and moving for a few minutes every waking hour, you will have a dramatic impact on your health.

According to Statistics Canada, Canadian adults over age 55 spend 39 hours per week watching television. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults achieve 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes.

Achieving this level of activity then will be your ultimate goal, but you need to lay out a plan to get there. The following could be your plan: if you are typically awake 16 hours per day and watch on average six hours of television a day, you will stand for two minutes for every 30 minutes of television that you watch . With this, you will reduce your sedentary time by 24 minutes a day or 168 minutes per week. This change alone will have a dramatically positive effect on your health.

Scientists say that it takes 66 days to create a new habit, so if you can maintain the change for this time period, you will have formed a new habit. Once we’ve formed habits, they are hard to break because, many times, we forget we’re doing them and we are able to do other things without thinking about our habit. You can now begin to work on your next challenge and develop another new habit on the road to a healthy lifestyle.

The example in this article focused on a health change but the principle applies to any change that you want to make in your life. Start simple, make one change, maintain the change for 66 days and it will become a new habit.

Janet Cranston is director of health and fitness at Reh-Fit Centre.

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