ImageOnce again the news has stories of the growing obesity problem in the UK and other countries – England is currently running at an obesity rate of around 24% for our adult population. In many instances bariatric surgery is providing a successful result for the super obese both in terms of long term weight loss and also declining instances of weight related Type 2 diabetes (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29953082). Inevitably though this refers to a very small minority of people who are overweight, and the vast majority of the population who are affected by weight (and general fitness) problems do not need to resort to such dramatic measures.

I firmly believe that regular exercise is good for us all in both mental and physical terms (especially weight related)  and many of us are in a position to help our general well being by enjoying an active life alongside trying to make good food decisions. The crux is to find the motivation and driver that works for you. For people who are motivated by an end goal this can be easy – circle the date in your diary for a 10k run or 30 mile bike ride and then set out a plan of how you’re going to achieve that set goal on that set date.

Many people don’t feel this drive for an end goal though and so it can be harder to find the motivation to fit exercise into an already busy life. In these instances experience shows that a combination of planning and smaller goal setting can be achieved much more easily.

Something like starting out a week and telling yourself that you’re going to swim twice in the upcoming week and go for a decent walk on three other days is excellent. The only trouble is it’s too easy to slip and find yourself at the end of the week looking back and seeing only half of your target met.

You are much more likely to do what has been set out if you plan properly beforehand.

For some, this will just mean writing in their diary the times that they are going to do their exercise. Others though need an outside influence, so these people need a trigger Do something likeco-ordinate with a friend to swim or walk together. It’s much easier to persuade yourself that you don’t need to do the planned exercise after all, but it’s a lot harder to tell your friend that you’re not going to bother turning up. Make yourself accountable to others and you’ll be amazed at what you can push yourself to do.

As well as this, in my opinion a normal life should be an active one in a host of small ways rather than just within the hours that we choose to exercise. If you can, follow the current zeitgeist and stand up to work at your desk every now and then, walk across the room to talk to a colleague rather than e-mailing them, and take the stairs whenever there’s a choice.

Also, remember a healthy lifestyle is meant to be fun not a chore. I’m firmly in the embarrassing “Dad-dancing” age group now but in the privacy of your own home getting some music on and dancing around while you cook or unpack shopping is not only going to make you healthier, it’s also going to make you and anyone else around you smile and that’s always going to be a good thing!