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If history is any judge, telling people what to do is not a great way of eliciting behavior change. As I have commented many times in different ways on this blog, goals are best achieved when they are truly/intrinsically important to the individual involved and when they have 'ownership' of the goal and the actions and directions leading to its achievement. However, offering 'options' rather than 'instructions' or 'tips' can be one way of eliciting this kind of 'intrinsic thinking'. So ... here are some great options that have worked for many people who were ready to become more active. Some of these may work for you and some may not. Some may not even be possible or desirable for you - but prompt a thought that takes you in a direction you realize that you value but just hadn't anticipated.

Think about these options below: what options, actions and directions are coming up for you?

The 'doc' Option: Actually, this first one is a recommendation! Although for the great majority of people, exercise is both safe and beneficial, we recommend that you first talk to your doctor about your ideas and options for becoming active before you start any kind of activity program. Include him or her in your options - they will definitely be interested! The American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine have recently collaborated on an initiative called "Exercise is Medicine". This recommends that physicians become more knowledgeable about, and involved in, the physical activity goals of their patients. If you have questions about being active that your doctor can't answer - or even if he/she can - ask to be referred to a qualified wellness educator or trainer. You can also refer your physician to the "Exercise is Medicine" website - they'll thank you for it! Here it is http://www.exerciseismedicine.org/media.htm The 'family' Option: Research has shown that one option for activity is 'social support'. In other word people are more likely to start and continue to be active if they have the support of others. So ....e.g. ask a family member, or a friend, to join you on your regular walks. This then becomes more of a social event than 'exercise' or 'a workout'. Perhaps you can find someone who enjoys - or would like to enjoy spending some active time with you - from grandchildren to grandparents. Think about and talk to your family about 'energy using' ideas around the house or outside the house and incorporate them into your active lifestyle plan. Make it a game for you and/or your children. See "The F Word" for a different kind of thinking about exercise or physical activity http://telosity.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/the-f-word/.

The 'do a little more' Option: Shopping, doing errands and even housework or chores can also be a way to add activity into your life. The great thing here is that to elicit any benefits, these 'exercise that isn't really exercise' options only have to be at 'moderate intensity'. For more details on doing 'a little bit more', see http://telosity.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/little-by-little . Once you get the idea from this information, then you have endless options to be a higher energy user rather than a lower energy user!

The 'extra steps' Option: A simple and inexpensive pedometer can keep count of your daily activity in terms of the number of steps you take each day. However here's something to make a note of. When you read about pedometers, you will no doubt discover that you 'need' to do 10,000 steps per day to receive any health benefits. This is really oversimplifying things, so don't get discouraged by this enormous number - physical activity is not solely about arithmetic. Look back at our 3rd option above and simply 'do a little more'. In other words use your pedometer to track how many steps you usually take in a day (record 2 or 3 days and take the average) and then look for ways to add more steps to this total. Progress one step at a time! Here's a great article on pedometers written by one of my old Exercise and Wellness buddies Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke @ http://www.alcoa.ca/research_u_docs/2001_05may_en_tips.pdf

The 'get stronger' Option: I have left the 'best' until last here (my opinion!). Strength training has developed a bad 'rep' over the years - at least for older adults. Myths abound about how it is 'too dangerous at my age', or 'it's only for younger people', or 'it's only for women - younger women'. The reality - supported by more than a decade of scientific research - is that individuals of any age can benefit from an appropriate program of progressive strength training. At the STRIVE Wellness Corporation http://strivealive.com/ we have been conducting strength training programs with adults as old as 92 for more than a decade. The results are astonishing and the benefits remarkable. Check out our STRIVE Stories @ http://strivealive.com/index.php?c=stories to see what older adults are saying about us, about STRIVE, and about how they feel as they get stronger. Also check out our blog @ http://strivealive.wordpress.com/ for an (ever increasing) series of short articles/posts about the many benefits of strength training. Getting stronger is so much easier - and the benefits so much greater than you may think!

So, again, as you think about these options above ...

what action oriented options are coming up that are important to you?

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