Everyone knows why being healthy is important. Healthy activity levels bring less risk of serious health problems like diabetes and cardiac arrest, a longer life expectancy, and a better overall quality of life. Yet, although you’ve likely been told over and over again that the best way to actually be healthy is to diet and exercise, that isn’t the truth.
Health isn’t limited to exercising like crazy, reaching your weight and size goals, and then doing nothing for months. This can actually harm your relationship with your eating and body image. Instead, it’s about creating healthy habits that you can sustain throughout your life while guiltlessly enjoying the things you want to do.
Here are some ways to promote a healthy and active lifestyle, not just for yourself, but for your family, friends, and even coworkers.
1. Take a class that gets you moving
It’s important to try and find a way to exercise that you like, or at least don’t hate. If you’re forcing yourself to do something that you don’t like just because it’s good for you, it’s not actually that good for you because it will take a toll on your mental health and relationship with exercise.
Instead, find an activity that you like and take a class on it. This will help you accomplish a few things at the same time.
- Socialize by making new friends and/or by taking people you know with you
- Build a healthy and sustainable habit
- Find a fun and enjoyable way to reach your goals
- Learn something new
2. Use working out as a way to spend quality time with people you care about
It’s a misconception that you can either work out or spend time with your loved ones. The truth is, you can absolutely do both together. Whenever you find time, you can go on a walk, hike, swim, run, jog, or cycle with loved ones.
You could make going to the gym an activity for you both, or take a class together and discover a new shared interest.
Alternatively, if they aren’t in the same location as you, you could both stretch together on a call, or text each other in between sets of weights.
If you’re the competitive kind, you can both take up a fitness challenge (or even a few challenges) and enjoy progressing together. Some examples include 30-day squat progress, drinking enough water a day, and full-body workout challenges.
3. Make lunchtime walks with colleagues an activity at work
It can be difficult to prioritize movement when you’re working all day and are too tired when you finish work as well. The first two tips can easily be applied to your work relationships, especially if your workplace has fitness incentives in place like gym membership discounts or even on-site facilities.
However, if for whatever reason they aren’t feasible for you, then consider implementing lunchtime walks. Take your colleagues with you, get sandwiches, salads, wraps, burritos, or any other food that’s easy to eat on the go, and stroll around near your workplace.
This makes it a social event, gets you moving, gets you outside, and gets you fed. It ticks a lot of boxes and is super easy to do.
4. Make fitness social and hold each other accountable
When you make your fitness journey and goals social, other people are involved. You can hold each other accountable for goals and remind each other how far you’ve come. Your fitness partner(s) can give you a little bit of a push, some space, or even help you be kind to yourself, depending on what you need at that point in time.
This can forge and strengthen bonds between you and help you to find the support and encouragement that you need.
5. Change the way you think about being fit and active
Being active shouldn’t be something that you do solely in order to look a certain way. While aesthetic goals are normal and acceptable, they can be damaging if they’re the only reason you work out. Instead, moving your body should be a part of your life.
When exercising is something that you do regularly and enjoy, you can more easily find ways to fit it into your everyday life because it becomes as normal as eating or showering. That also makes it easier to talk about and share with the people in your life.
6. Make sure that you have a healthy diet
Fitness and health have a lot of aspects – social, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and more. Your physical activity is only one aspect of it.
While it’s important to focus on all of these aspects, when you’re focusing on being more physically fit you can’t achieve those goals without the right diet.
Just like with exercising to reach a certain weight, dieting isn’t a long-term solution. Your body needs the right nutrition in order to move and accomplish your goals.
Focus on eating more, not less. This is so that you can get all the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber) that you need. Each meal should have plenty of fiber, protein, and healthy fats with some carbs to keep you satiated and full of energy. This way, you can power through the day without any energy slumps and still have plenty of fuel for smashing your workouts.
A healthy and active lifestyle that’s here to stay
When you make movement a way of life, you don’t have to worry about goal weights, clothing sizes, or feeling ashamed for not moving enough.
This is because there’s no special diet or exercise program, it’s just another day. Sometimes when you don’t feel like cooking, you order takeout. Sometimes when you don’t want to wash your hair, you wait until tomorrow. Sometimes you don’t want to work out, so you’ll just do it tomorrow.
The most important thing to remember on your fitness journey is that you have to have compassion for yourself. Push yourself to be better, but be kind to yourself if you don’t make your goals just yet. There’s always room to try again!