Taking more care of your health is one of the main promises with the arrival of a new year. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 150 to 300 minutes of aerobic activity per week for adults, and an average of 60 minutes per day for children and adolescents.
According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), regular physical activity helps reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, decrease cognitive decline and can improve memory and brain health.
Creating an action plan can make it easier for established goals to get off the ground. Check out five steps to deliver on our promises and have a healthier 2022.
1. Understand your motivations
Before setting goals for better health, keep in mind why you want to get there and why you started.
According to psychologist Renato Caminha, this step will help to face the difficulties that may arise along the way. That way, it will be easier to understand what and who can help you achieve your goals.
“There are positive and negative aspects to setting goals. In life, it’s quite healthy for us to have projects because they are motivating. But they depend on a series of factors that happen in people’s lives, we don’t control the facts and people end up getting frustrated”, says the psychologist.
2. Make plans that can be executed
Just as you can’t start building a house from the roof, life goals need to start from achievable points. For mental health specialists, the establishment of more tangible goals to be achieved helps in the search for a change in habits and can help to avoid frustration.
“Sometimes people have extremely high and unattainable goals. Working on this involves a process that we call self-compassion, of understanding what one is capable of and accepting one’s own limits”, says psychologist Renato Caminha.
Psychologist Mayara Vieira recommends that, while setting goals for the new year, small tasks are created to be accomplished within the context of a larger objective.
“Before losing twenty kilos, you need to lose five hundred grams. Dividing your plans into small goals helps you to observe your progress and stay firm on the journey, in addition to building, little by little, a long-desired habit,” says Mayara.
3. Start slowly
For the teacher and physical trainer Marcio Atalla, a common mistake that people make when trying to improve their health and quality of life is starting with heavy training or restrictive diets. According to him, the load of intense activity can lead to excessive fatigue and discourage continued exercise.
“Excessive physical activity can lead to muscle and joint pain. This causes the person not to have a regularity and eventually reverts to the old pattern. The most serious risk is having a more serious injury because the person is out of physical condition or overweight”, he says.
Discomfort and the feeling of hunger are the main factors associated with difficulty in adhering to very restrictive diets.
“You can reduce 5% of the volume of the dish, this is possible to be repeated, with time the body has already got used to it. Eat a little more fiber, for example, every breakfast will have a fruit. Start more concerned about creating a new habit, it’s a process”, says Atalla.
4. Create habits
Marcio Atalla explains that the first step in changing eating habits and physical activity is creating habits. He recommends that the time for the exercise be added to the day’s to-do list in writing or to the calendar in digital format.
“Creating a habit involves repeating the task. My tip is: it doesn’t matter if in this beginning your change in diet or physical activity is going to be great, the important thing is to make a change that can be repeated in the next 90 days at least 70 times, that is, five times a week “, highlights.
According to the physical trainer, incorporating activities closer to daily life can be a good start for creating the habit of movement, such as taking a 15-minute walk or climbing ten floors of stairs.
“The person who decided to walk 10 minutes a day, after two weeks doing this, in addition to being tiring less, in those minutes, he will travel a greater distance because the body adapts and conditions itself. Naturally, she will already be doing more than in the beginning and will increase this exercise time”, he says.
5. Respect your own body’s limits
Extreme tiredness, body aches, sleeping difficulties and a drop in immunity are some of the signs that the body shows that physical activities may be over the limit. “Respecting the body’s own limits is essential to obtain good results in physical conditioning. The good old-fashioned progression, going from simple to complex little by little, is the best path”, says Atalla.
Psychologist Renato Caminha warns that part of the search for physical activities and nutritional diets is associated with the search for standards of beauty. According to him, having as an exclusive motivation to attend to this body model socially interpreted as the ideal can be harmful to mental health.
“Society is always dictating to us rules on how to be, what to do or body and behavior models. We are still in the early stages of revising these social beliefs that include standards of beauty. We are often putting ourselves in a position to meet these social standards like being fitness, being successful or traveling more,” he says.