Lose weight, eat healthier and exercise more: Research by EenVandaag shows that many Dutch people intend to live a healthier life in the coming year. But what's the best way to start? What are the health benefits of exercise anyway?
According to social psychology professor Frink van Haarveld at the University of Amsterdam, it's best to start by looking at your goal formulation. He explains that instead of setting an abstract goal like “exercise more,” it's better to be very specific.
From now on, eat really healthy
For example: “I will go to the gym on Monday at 11 a.m. for 45 minutes.” Or: “From now on I will only eat one piece of chocolate per week, every Wednesday.” Van Harveld argues that what often goes wrong is that people set their goals at the wrong time.
“Once people have had enough oil or Christmas dinner, they come to the conclusion that they want to eat healthy that year. At times like this, it's easy to say: 'You're not hungry.' Once you're hungry, I better understand how difficult it is “Dieting.”
A full stomach is misleading
Van Harveld knows this because he conducted research on people who participate in Weight Watchers, a company that helps people lose weight. “We asked these people how hungry they were at that moment and how much weight they wanted to lose.”
“We've seen that people who are not hungry at all set more ambitious goals. People who are a little hungry are more modest when setting goals.”
Short term goals
The social psychology professor also advises against setting goals that are too high. “The chance that you won't be able to achieve it is diminished, and that leads to disappointment. Therefore, you will be more likely to believe that you can't do it, which will make you give up more quickly.”
Van Harveld thinks it's a good idea to think about decisions that can be rewarding in the short term. “So don't just focus on the long-term goal 'in a year I will lose 10 kilos', but 'in a month I will lose 1 kilo'. This way you will be rewarded more quickly, and this actually happened.” “Motivating effect. It delivers up immediately. “
According to sports behavior specialist Yannick De Corti from the Knowledge Center for Sport and Exercise, setting small, achievable goals is also an important starting point. “An ‘if-then’ plan can help with this. For example: ‘When I get home from work, I first go for a walk around the block before I start cooking.’ It’s helpful to try to make goals concrete in your daily life.”
What also helps is expressing your intentions to friends and family, De Corti says. “If you keep a goal in front of you, does that goal actually exist? That changes if those around you know about it. We want to appear reliable and consistent to others. When we announce that we intend to do something, you are more likely to stick to that goal.”
De Corti knows that a sports buddy can also be an added incentive to achieve your goal. “Such a person can be a stick behind the door. It is also good to think in advance how to deal with difficult moments. For example, if you are very busy with work. Thinking of solutions in advance helps you cope in those difficult moments to deal with them.”
What also helps is to reward yourself if you succeed in achieving your short-term goal, says De Corti. “For example, if you can walk after finishing work for three weeks in a row, reward yourself with a night at the movies or something else fun. This reward will help you persevere.”
Health effects of more exercise
If you can achieve your goal, what is the gain? De Corti explains that exercise enables the whole body to function: “It affects everything: your lungs, your heart, your muscles, you name it.” “We know from scientific research that exercise has many benefits,” he continues. “Not only do you become fitter and feel better about yourself, but there is also a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and various forms of cancer.”
It's no coincidence that the World Health Organization states that exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental health, he says. “If you could put it on a pill, it would do it Until now “It's the best medicine.”
The mental benefits of exercise
According to the Brain Foundation, exercise also has a number of benefits: it improves memory, reduces stress, and has a positive effect on your sleep at night. In addition, exercise reduces the risk of brain disorders such as dementia, depression, and Parkinson's disease.
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