The easiest way to adopt healthy habits is
to make small changes to our behaviour. The involves slightly modifying the way we go about doing
activities each day. For example, instead of using the escalators when out shopping, use the stairs
instead. These small changes to our lifestyle are far more likely to be maintained that committing
ourselves to unrealistic diets and fitness fads. How many people do you know who have joined a gym
only to leave or stop going a few months later. The reason for this is that from doing nothing to
going a gym 3 or 4 times per week is such a shift in their weekly lives that it is unlikely to be
sustained for a long time.
According to research, it takes
approximately 66 days to form a new habit. Habits can be defined as behaviours which are performed
automatically because they have been performed many times in the past. This repetition creates a
mental association between the situation (cue) and action (behaviour) which means that when the cue
is encountered the behaviour is performed automatically. Automaticity has a number of components,
one of which is lack of thought
To create a habit you need to repeat the
behaviour in the same situation. It is important that something about the setting where you perform
the behaviour is consistent so that it can cue the behaviour. If you choose a context cue, for
example after lunch, we don’t think that it matters if you eat lunch at different times in the
Breaking habits is very difficult. The
easiest way is to control your environment so that you do not encounter the cue which triggers your
habit. It is difficult to break any habit even when you are motivated to do so. If you are
ambivalent about breaking it then you will be less likely to succeed.New habits do not stop the old habits from existing; they just have to become
stronger influences on behaviour.
- Ditch the TV remote controller –
getting up and changing the channel manually 10 times per day will burn approximately 10
calories. That’s a total of 3650 per year – enough to burn one pound of body
- Carry a basket instead of using a
trolley. This will utilize the muscles in the arms and shoulder and requires core
- Get off the bus one stop earlier and
you will burn up to 6 calories for each minute that you walk
- Try to use regular doors instead on
automatic as this work the backs of your arms – the triceps
- Fidget – regular research suggests that
people who fidget can maintain a low body weight without exercising simply by constant,
- Get a dog and take it for regular walks
– keeping a dog on the lead will slightly increase the number of calories
- Crumple newspapers after you have
finished with them. This works the muscles of the fingers and wrists.
- Increase the speed that you vacuum around the house – this can burn 4 calories
per minute and increase core strength.
- Walk down escalators – this can burn an
extra 4 calories per minute.
- Walk up escalators – can burn 10
calories for every minute if done two steps at a time (great for the bum and thigh
- Push the kids on the swing – this
improves arm strength and flexibility
- Purchase a fitball and sit on this when
possible – this engages the core stability muscles around the torso which improves posture and
makes you stomach flatter
- Using the stairs instead of the lift
burns 10 calories per minute and tones all the leg muscles.
- If you wear less clothing the body will
burn more calories – hence one calorie is the amount of heat required the raise the temperature
of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.
- Decrease the thermostat in your home
resulting in your body increasing its metabolism and burning more
- Go to the top deck of the bus – 2
- Washing up the dishes manually uses an
extra 2 calories per minute.
- Drying the dishes rather than letting
them drain uses an extra 2 calories per minute
- Don’t send an internal e-mail to a
person sitting 10 metres away – walk over instead burning 6 calories per
- Don’t drink water with meals as this
can prevent a feeling of fullness and lead to extra calorie
- Always maintain a good posture whether
sitting or standing – eyes forward, chest out, shoulder back, and stomach in. Slouching can
make the stomach look bigger and will lead to back pain.
- When sitting gently lift your legs off
the floor and hold for 10secs – this works your stomach muscles and hip flexors
- Wash the car, don’t use a car wash – a
30min car wash can burn 100 calories!!
- Don’t wait for the bus, walk to the
next bus stop – 6 calories burnt per minute
- When using car parks always park the
furthest away from where you need to get to - 6 calories burnt per
- Do the gardening – an hour of pruning
and weeding can burn up to 700 calories when done intensely.
- Use a regular screwdriver rather than
power tools therefore utilising the wrist and finger muscles.
- Move around during ad breaks allowing
for 6 calories to be burnt per minute.
- Eat a minimum of 3 servings of
vegetables and 2 servings of fruit every day. (‘5 a day)
- Always eat
- Limit soft drinks and drink at least 8
glasses of water per day
- Have 3 balanced meals per day and 2-3
small healthy snacks i.e. fruit
- Use fats and oils
- Have a small snack 20mins prior to a
meal. This will prepare your digestive system.
- Reduce the amount of salt intake by not
adding salt at the dinner table and by eating fewer high processed
- Never eat just before you go to bed as
your bodies metabolic rate is at its slowest therefore food is more likely to be stored as
- Chop vegetables rather than buying
vegetables already chopped – this can use an extra 2 calories per