Anyone looking to stick to their New Year's resolutions of getting active and improving their health should go on regular walks round their park rather than rushing out to get a gym membership.
Each year, around one third of people in the UK plan to make a New Year's resolution, with losing weight, getting fit and other health priorities being the most popular resolutions. However, unsurprisingly most of us will fail to achieve our goals with only 1 in 10 people sticking to their New Year's resolutions beyond the first few months of the year.
Many of us think that improving our health means doing less of the things we love and more of the things we find challenging and taxing - whether it is going to the gym every day or lengthy runs each weekend. But the key to keep moving in the long-term is to find ways to incorporate physical activity into the activities that we enjoy.
More than 2.5 million people in the UK have got moving through health initiatives I've helped develop such as Beat the Street, Green Gyms and Health Walks. Their success in engaging the most hard-to-reach people in the community is based on the idea that physical activity should be fun, social and simple - whether it is competing with friends to see who can walk the furthest or spending more time connecting with nature.
Being active and healthy doesn't have to be a chore or difficulty - by moving for at least 20 minutes each day we can greatly reduce our risk of many long-term and preventative conditions. So if you're looking at getting fitter, healthier and happier in 2017 why not go out more with friends and family or explore and discover in the hidden gems in your community - you may find being active is easier than you think!
Here are five simple tips to keep in mind when making your New Year's Resolutions:
- Do something you enjoy - There's no point trying to force yourself to do something you will dislike. Fit being active around things you're passionate about whether it is discovering history, connecting with nature or spending time with those close to you.
- Be social - It's easier to be active when everyone else around us is moving as well. Go on walks or bike rides with friends and family - you will be improving your health and have more fun at the same time.
- Reward yourself - The way we view improving our health is backwards. It is easy to beat yourself up for not achieving all your goals - instead, you should reward positive changes with little treats to help keep you motivated.
- Little and often - It takes weeks to form a habit. Rather than setting a large, challenging goal - find something that is easy and positive which you will be able to keep on doing in the long-term.
- It's not all about losing weight - Being active is not just about losing weight. By moving for 20 minutes each day you can dramatically reduce your risk of many long-term conditions such Type 2 diabetes, dementia, depression, heart disease and even more forms of cancer.