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4 habits to increase your level of physical activity

25 July 2017
By Sport Singapore

Engaging in regular physical activity comes with plenty of health benefits, such as reducing risks of chronic diseases, increasing daily energy levels, and even improving work productivity.

Based on expert recommendations, an average person should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, sport, or exercise per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or longer.

Moderate intensity activity should noticeably increase your breathing, such as brisk walking, cycling, or a friendly game of basketball or soccer.

Active HealthPhoto: iStock

When you are carrying out vigorous intensity activities, you should notice a more significant increase in your breathing rate, which should make conducting conversations while exercising impossible.

These include high-intensity interval training (HIIT), sprinting, and strength training. Under the Active Health programme, there are four recommended habits that you can pick up in order to reach the weekly recommendation of 150 minutes of physical activity:

1. Use the stairs instead of the escalator/lift every day

To start, take note of all the escalators and lifts you use on a daily basis, and locate the stairways that accompany them. Then, consciously make the switch to using the stairs as you go about your day! Don’t worry if you’ve accidentally taken the escalator or lift, because you can go back down and use the stairs again. Being mindful of your behavior is key to ensuring that you make progress. You will find that using the stairs will be second nature pretty soon!

2. Taking a 10-minute brisk walking break every day

Spending just 10 minutes a day brisk walking can help you meet half of the weekly recommendation! You should plan ahead by settting aside a specific time and place for your daily walk. This could be as simple as walking to your nearest MRT station, or your favourite lunch spot! Track your progress each day by making a note on your phone or calendar. If you forgot, you can head out immediately to make up for it!

3. Reach 10,000 steps on your activity tracker every day

Along your daily routine, identify the possible opportunities to increase your step count – if you can hit 10,000 steps, you would have walked about 10km that day! Taking the stairs, opting for a longer route to the washroom, or even taking a 15-minute walk instead of a shuttle bus are great ways to do so. An activity tracker is all the rage these days, and most smartphones are equipped with them. Simply track your step count at regular intervals throughout the day to find out how close you are to your goal. A quick tip: You can set your activity tracker to alert you to get moving if you’ve been inactive for a while. Take a 5 – 10-minute walking break when you receive an alert!

Active HealthPhoto: iStock

4. At least 25 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every day, in bouts of 10 minutes or more

To commit to a daily workout, it is best to plan ahead, similar to how you would book an appointment. Decide when, where, and who you will be exercising with, and even the type of activity you will be doing ahead of time! Add a calendar reminder each time to make sure you turn up. If you are one who gets bored easily, change up your activities regularly. You could be cycling, jogging, playing badminton, or even following a yoga instructional video on YouTube!

These habits cannot be introduced into your daily routine overnight, but they can be cultivated over time and with determination. Get a few friends of yours and embark on the Active Health journey today! Remember: health is about doing things better, not perfect.

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