Starting an exercise regime can be daunting if it’s not a regular part of your lifestyle. Perhaps you have tried it before but gave up midway before you could meet your fitness goals. The same challenge might apply to dietary changes too. Whether you are looking to tone up, tweak your food intake or revitalise your health, let’s examine some of the practical ways to hit your targets.
We are not designed to run a marathon without prior training or to build 8kg of muscle mass in a single day. Reaching these goals will require time, planning, discipline and willpower. The aim is to start small as you are more likely to reach your primary goal if you break milestones down into smaller, short-term objectives.
Pick an activity that’s comfortable and physically realistic for you. Next, find a start point that’s attainable. For instance, you can try to complete a 2km run in 15 minutes, then gradually pick up the pace in following weeks. You’ll also need to establish a practical timeframe. If you plan to lose 20kg, a realistic weight loss of 1kg every one to two weeks will require approximately 20 to 40 weeks.1
Track your physical activity
It is easier to reach your fitness goals when you have actual figures to work with. If you want to walk your way to 10,000 steps a day, a reliable fitness tracker or pedometer is a must. Studies also suggest that trackers are an excellent motivational aid in helping wearers increase and extend their physical activities.2
You can work your exercise into your daily routine. If you are averaging 2,000 steps a day, for example, you might want to walk another 8,000 steps before the day is over. Most of these trackers also come with corresponding apps for your phone. Not only do they provide better insights to your activities, some also send you motivational messages to nudge you along when you’re inactive.
There are alternatives to trackers if you prefer to do without them. Using the built-in accelerometers in your smartphone can turn your phone into a makeshift pedometer. While they may not be as accurate as the real thing, these pseudo step counters are good enough to help you walk towards your fitness goals3.
Join a group training class
Sometimes, it might take more than a step counter or a motivational quote to inspire you to work those muscles. Studies suggest that people exercising in a group tend to push themselves harder within the competitive atmosphere. When participants see each other as targets to beat, it creates a social dynamic where everyone is increasing each other’s activity levels4.
Eat right to live right
Besides working out, your diet plays a huge part in shaping your health too. Eating right will provide you with the energy to excel, improve your quality of life and maintain a healthy weight. Swapping out junk food with healthier options, for instance, is the first step in keeping your weight within a healthy range. Besides, eating wholesome meals also ensures your immune system functions optimally to guard against immunodeficiency problems5.
When you plan your diet, assess whether you are consuming too much or too little of certain nutrients. Try referring to the My Healthy Plate visual guide by the Health Promotion Board to find out what a balanced meal entails.
Variety is the spice of life
Additionally, the key to optimal health lies in eating a wide variety of foods from across all food groups. This includes consuming wholegrains, meat, fruit, vegetables and other foods rich in protein6. Too much of anything is never good, so do eat everything in moderation. Like the fitness trackers, there are nutrition apps which offer you personalised tips for different objectives — from weight loss programmes to anti-inflammatory diets or stamina-boosting recipes.
Reach your goals through health coaching
Staying active, eating healthily and keeping your weight in check not only improves your health, but also helps to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Health coaching (HC), where a health coach provides tailored advice and solutions to a client to help a change in behaviour change7, can help you make critical changes to your lifestyle in areas such as fitness and nutrition.
At Cigna, your health and wellbeing matter to us. Speak to your Cigna Representative about our Chronic Disease Management and Lifestyle Programme, a personalised lifestyle and health coaching via a digital application. Gain the confidence to modify your lifestyle and better health, all the way.
1. Better Health Channel. (2015). Physical activity – setting yourself goals.
2. Dafna Merom, Chris Rissel, Philayrath Phongsavan, Ben J Smith, Cathelijne Van Kemenade, Wendy J Brown, Adrian E Bauman. (2007). Promoting walking with pedometers in the community: the step-by-step trial.
3. HealthHub. (2021). Use a Fitness Tracker to Motivate Your to Exercise and Track Your Physical Activity.
4. HealthHub. (2020). Benefits of Group Training and Workouts.
5. Active Health. What is good nutrition and why is it important?
6. HealthHub. (2021). Healthy Eating in 6 Simple Steps.
7. Nanyang Technological University. (2021). Health Coaching for Older Adults.