Being active and getting fit is good for our heart health, blood pressure, waistlines, energy levels, and mental health. But sometimes we choose to prioritise social occasions involving a lot of eating and drinking, we get too busy at work, or we have so many responsibilities at home that we stop making time for exercise. For our own sake, we need to make sure we’re getting enough exercise.

Most of us go through phases of being quite active, and phases when we lose motivation and are not. When we stop doing exercise, we quickly lose fitness and can feel sluggish. Here are some ideas to help you get fitter and stay motivated.

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  • If you feel out of breath doing everyday activities or struggle to walk around the block without getting breathless, you’re running a serious risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.
  • The general guideline is that we should be doing at least 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week. Some people prefer to work more intensively for a shorter period of time doing a high intensity work-out which can take only 10 minutes a day. We suggest mixing it up.
  • Most of us could do with being a bit fitter. Even if we have an active lifestyle, we all go through phases where we lack motivation or get bored with the activities we’re doing. The key is to not let this phase last longer than a few weeks, and to find new activities and routines to keep us motivated.

Get a Green Prescription

If you’ve neglected your fitness for a while, and it’s causing you health problems, you might qualify for a ‘Green Prescription’. Green Prescription is a Government funded motivational programme where you work with a health coach to set fitness and health goals and create a fitness plan. You can also attend weekly fitness and health workshops on different topics.   Your health coach then keeps you motivated by checking in with you over a three month period. See your doctor or nurse and ask them to refer you to Green Prescription, or call 0800 228 483 for more information. Green Prescription provides a really good nationwide service but they do not have a website, so make the call today.

If you don’t have any serious health concerns, and just want some motivation to get fitter, think about what motivates you to do exercise, and try some of these ideas.

If you are motivated by having to meet friends or groups of people at a set time

  • Organise to meet a mate regularly for a workout at your local gym or swimming pool, or a weekly run or game of squash.
  • If you prefer a group or team activity, do an online search to find a local running group (Harriers, YMCA, Nike Run club) or social sports team (touch rugby, basketball, indoor soccer).

If you are motivated by achieving goals

  • Sign up to an upcoming running, swimming or cycling event. No matter what your fitness or experience levels are, most big events cater for a range of fitness levels from beginners to professionals.

Consider joining the Men’s Health running team at the Auckland Marathon.

  • Use a phone app or fitness watch to measure how far you run or how many steps you do each day, and set yourself the goal to increase this each week. Check out what’s available.

If you are motivated by routine

  • Get a calendar and block out the same time each week to do exercise. You might join a local gym, or go for a run, a cycle, or even a walk. The key is to start a routine, get out the door that first time, and commit to it. Make this calendar event a priority, and plan other social activities around it.

For more ideas check out our Helpful Links and Useful Resources sections below.

Is getting fitter really worth the effort? Yes. Here’s why.

  • Being unfit is bad for your heart and can cause high blood pressure and high cholesterol which means you are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
  • Being unfit, in combination with a diet high in sugar, will most likely lead to developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Getting fitter is a great way to lose centimetres from your waist. If you get your heart rate up while exercising, even after you finish your body will continue to burn calories while you’re resting.
  • The fitter we are, the more attractive we become. We get trim and toned, our skin improves, and we’ve got more energy.


Lee-Anne Wann is a health expert and ambassador for the Men’s Health Trust. Check out her 4-WEEK GUIDE TO STARTING EXERCISE.

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Michael's Story

After seeing his father pass away from a heart attack aged just 62, Michael could see the same fate for himself if he didn’t make some radical lifestyle changes. So, starting March 2014, weighing in at 120kgs, he made the decision to commit to running everyday for at least a year. Michael has just clocked up his 500th day in a row of running. Now they call him “Iron Mike”.



Here are some useful brochures and resources that you can download for ideas on ways get fitter.


If you would like to share your story about how you got fitter, and how this has helped your health, we’d love to hear from you. Fill in the form and we’ll get in touch.