Starting and staying physically active

Starting a regular physical activity routine and maintaining it

There are different ways to start and stay physically active. You have to consider your routine and the types of activities you like.

  • Choose a routine that works for you. You may prefer to exercise first thing in the morning before you begin the day, or in the evening at the end of the day’s work or you may prefer to put in short bouts of exercise throughout the day. You may also choose to exercise for a longer time on certain days of the week when you have more time.
  • Choose the type of exercise that works for you. It may be a walk, jog, run, bike, ride, dance, or resistance training. It may also be simply playing with your kids or pets.

Different personas of women and what may work for them

Different things work for different women based on their life stages and personal circumstances. Women play multiple roles daily that will affect their capacity to exercise. The availability of money, social support, and time also affect a woman’s capacity to stay physically active.

Here we will take a look at some examples of different kinds of women and how they may choose to start and maintain regular physical activity.

1.    A stay-at-home mum who does not have anyone else to help with housework.

Typically, this stay-at-home mum is tasked with childcare and housekeeping roles throughout the day. This is a very stressful situation, She may have little or no time for exercise. This situation may be worse if she has economic constraints with little access to money and little social support around her. Other factors may make this situation more stressful.

However, there is a good side to this situation. She has some control over her time and can schedule her tasks in a manner that is convenient for her.

Here are simple ways that she can stay active throughout the day:

  • Set aside a certain time of the day to exercise regularly.
  • Schedule small bouts of exercise throughout the day. For example, she can do a 10-minute workout after every 1 hour of doing a task at home.
  • She can play music and dance to it while doing some home tasks.
  • Plan a children’s play date with her friends or family who have children so that they can take a walk and play with the kids together.
  • If she has no money to the gym or has no safe space to walk around where she lives, she can choose to have a fun exercise from the comfort of her home. Examples of exercises she can do are dancing to music, jumping rope, jumping jacks, etc.

2.    A single mother who works remotely

A single mother who works remotely will be tasked with childcare and workload from work. She juggles these tasks throughout the day. In addition to her scheduled work tasks, she is also likely under pressure to participate in virtual meetings at certain times of the day. This means she may find herself sitting for a long time most of the day.

Here are some ways that she can stay active:

  • Set aside a certain time of the day to exercise regularly. She should consider her childcare and work schedule in doing this.
  • Schedule short bouts of physical activity after an hour of working or after the virtual meetings. A walk may help to clear the mind and help her relax more.  Moderate-intensity dance to music during a short break is also good.
  • Set a reminder to help you get up and move around after sitting for a long time.
  • Schedule outdoor physical activity during the weekends if you are not working on weekends.
  • Schedule physical activity meetups with work colleagues who live close to you. An example can be a short walk around a park if you have one in the neighborhood.
  • If you don’t have space for group physical activity, you can plan to have a virtual group workout session on Zoom, Teams, or Google Meet.

3.    A woman with children who works shifts. 

A woman with children who works shifts will also juggle the tasks of childcare and work shifts. Some of these shifts may be at night. Frequent night shift is associated with increased cardiovascular risk factors. This makes it imperative to reduce the frequency of night shifts if a woman has an existing cardiovascular risk factor like pre-diabetes. Shift work makes it difficult to have a steady schedule for physical activity. This is worsened by juggling other childcare tasks. However, these are suggestive ways to stay physically active:

  • Prioritizing sleep after a night shift and on nights when not on a night shift.
  • Choose a convenient time of the day to work out when not on a shift. When on a day shift, plan to arrive early and take a short walk before starting work. A walk after work may also be possible depending on your schedule.
  • If possible, bike or walk to work.

4.    A middle or top management worker with children who commutes long distances to work.

A middle or top executive with children who commutes long distances to work. She may also be saddled with the task of getting the children ready for school and dropping them off. She is also likely to spend most of the day sitting down in management meetings (both in-person and virtual). She also has the additional pressure of supervising a team and managing work challenges.

This situation makes it difficult to stay physically active. However, she can successfully navigate this situation in a manner that enables her to stay physically active.

The good side is that she is a leader. So she is in a position to promote a positive culture of physical activity. Here are ways she can start and maintain a physically active lifestyle.

  • Meditate during the long commute to work
  • Set up a physical activity program in the organization.
  • Encourage walking team meetings.
  • Set aside a certain time in the week especially weekends to exercise.
  • Set a reminder for standing up and walking around after sitting for a certain period (for example one hour).
  • Organize play dates with friends and family to play with kids and pets

There are other personas of women in different life stages and personal circumstances that are not listed here. Your Viedial Health Coach will discuss your specific life stage and personal circumstances with you and help you to navigate.

Ways to avoid injuries while staying physically active.

Injuries hinder a regular physical activity routine. Here are ways to avoid them.

  1. Work with a healthcare provider to determine your fitness for exercise.
  2. Wear the right shoes and clothes. Certain types of shoes and clothes are made for walking, running or jumping, etc. Use the correct type for each activity. Consider the weather when you are dressing up.
  3. Be gentle with yourself and start small. You are likely to get hurt if you work out too hard. Listen to your body and slow down or stop when you feel tired, dizzy, or sick.
  4. Make slow and steady progress with time. You can start with walking for 30 minutes and then gently increase it to 35 minutes and then 40 minutes.
  5. Drink water before, during, and after exercise. Don’t wait until you are thirsty.
  6. Avoid straining a particular part of the body for a long time.
  7. Warm-up and cool down. Take at least 5 minutes for each.
  8. Choose a safe environment with no bumps or objects that you can trip on.

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