The power of positive routines

Canadians everywhere structure their lives around routines – going to school or to work, preparing meals, morning and bedtime rituals – plus just about everything in between. Whether you realize it or not, the cumulative effects of these routines can have a big impact on your well-being. So why not have your routines work for you?

You don’t need to completely change your lifestyle to make a lasting impact on your life. In fact, it’s usually the small changes that have the biggest effect – it’s easier to maintain small changes as opposed to dramatic lifestyle shifts that require a larger investment. Incremental progress is still progress, and trust us – it adds up.

Get physical

It never hurts to introduce more physical activity into your life. We know that only 20% of Canadians are getting the 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity per week that are needed for any health benefits to kick in. The good news is that you can accumulate this activity in bouts of as little as 10 minutes at a time. So, small steps can add up.

Being active is associated with a wide range of health benefits – from reducing your risk of heart disease to improving your mental health. Even a short stroll after dinner can get you started on the right path. As you get used to being more active, try to skip out on driving every now and then; walk or bike instead. Or get off the bus early and walk part of the way. At work, say "No thanks," to the elevator and take the stairs.

Be accountable

Most of us benefit from having a written record of our plans, so try and keep an exercise journal. This gives you a record of all your successes and gives you a visual of where you can improve. You may have never noticed that your activity is great on the weekend, but slumps mid-week. It might also help you stay on track and provide motivation if your routine is stuck in a rut.

If you’re still having trouble finding motivation, put on your workout clothes for a few minutes and try again; this simple trick conditions you to get active whenever you’re wearing your fitness attire. You can also enroll a friend or colleague in your new exercise routine. Schedule a sweat date the way you’d schedule a coffee date. Booking something into your calendar will ensure you don’t get swept away by meetings or extra-curricular pizza nights.

Set goals

Set goals for yourself, and always strive to reach them. People who set SMART goals are more likely to realize success than those who do not. SMART goals are Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. If you have a set list of things to do, get it in writing so that you don’t skimp out on meeting your daily goals. And while you’re at it – don’t dwell on mistakes. Learn from the past and always celebrate your daily goals. And while you’re at it – don’t dwell on mistakes. Learn from the past and always celebrate your victories. Achieving your goals is something to be proud of.

Pulling it all together

Try incorporating some of these small adjustments into your daily routine. Train yourself to find the time for physical activity, and you will find that the cumulative effects of being active, accountable, and goal-oriented will seep into all other areas of your life.

Now, go forth with positivity; your improved routines might help you find the pep missing from your step.