The start of a new year serves as an opportunity for many of us to set new goals and commit to better habits.
The most commonly-selected new year’s resolution is fitness!
But what happens when the energy and excitement start to wear off?
Below, we explore how to make looking after your physical wellbeing fun and look at tips on how to keep the momentum going;
The best way to turn exercise into a part of your normal routine is to make it something you enjoy.
Work out with someone you enjoy spending time with—a friend, housemate, family member, partner, or spouse. Combining exercise with socialising will increase the likelihood of you maintaining your exercise habit and will make it more fun
Enrol in classes at a gym or participate in team sports to add a sense of accountability—especially if you have teammates depending on you. Seeing others making similar efforts and accomplishing goals can also provide motivation.
Learn several different workouts (both cardio and strength) and alternate for variety. It’s healthy to do an assortment of activities and work different muscles, and it keeps exercise from getting monotonous.
Consider taking up a sport or activity that is also mentally challenging or will expand your limits.
Upbeat music that makes you feel good also makes workouts more fun. In fact, music can boost performance. It can trick your mind into feeling less tired during a workout and also encourage positive thoughts.
Fresh-air activities (such as running, walking, or team sports) stave off boredom by adding variety to where you go and what you see during your workout. Plus, being outside can also improve brain function, mood, and mental health.
If you’re unable to do your regular activity, find out what alternatives are available. It’s possible to get a full workout in any size space—home, office, hotel, or park, with or without equipment.
You might struggle to maintain exercise habits because you have not yet found something that suits you, or you just plain don’t enjoy exercising! Find other ways to stay active and incorporate it in your daily routines—such as gardening, walking your dog, doing squats while waiting for water to boil when cooking or dancing to your favourite music. If you force yourself to go running, when you are more suited to yoga or dancing, you are not likely to keep it up. Keep exploring new avenues until you find what suits you.
Participating with people you know can give you a big mental boost towards following through and achieving your fitness goals.
Keep a record of your progress throughout the challenge so you can see how far you’ve come. This can be a measure such as time, length, or weight, or you could record how you felt before and after your workout to recognise the benefits.
If you fail to meet a particular fitness goal or if you progress more slowly than you’d hoped, don’t give up. Instead, use it as additional motivation to keep going and as a clue to help you learn what you might have to change to move closer to the goal. Remember, putting in the effort and making progress is much more important.
Regardless of your type of exercise, some people are motivated by seeing scores, measurements, and statistics. Some numbers that might help include:
If you have a competitive streak, take advantage of it by getting involved in a competitive sport or activity. Running, rowing, basketball, weightlifting and bike racing are just a few possibilities. A fitness challenge may include competing against other participants. You and a few friends could create a friendly bet based on achievements. Compete against yourself, aiming for improved personal records. Remember to push away negative thoughts or preconceptions about exercise.
Sometimes tracking measurable factors like weight, body fat index, cholesterol, or endurance provide motivation. Body parts can also be measured—arms, hips, waist. Seeing these numbers move in a healthy direction gives you a positive feeling that helps you keep going. Even just having a specific pair of trousers that don’t currently fit is a great measurement. You could also measure your sense of wellbeing and mental health: Do you feel a difference in how you feel about yourself after these activities? Perhaps you could score your mood on a scale of one-to-ten before and after.
Whether it’s a 5K race, a mini triathlon, or just fitting into a specific pair of jeans, setting a realistic goal can help you persist. Reward yourself when you achieve that goal!
When you make exercise a part of your normal routine, just like having a shower or eating dinner, it becomes a fact of life rather than a chore or something you can put off or ignore. Check it off once you’ve completed your exercise and watch the number of active days add up.
Getting started with regular exercise is the hard part. Now, with a few more tips on how to make it fun, social, and measurable, you have more tools to help you maintain your activity level.
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