During the pandemic, many people took up exercise. There was a proliferation of online exercise videos and friends were sending around HIIT videos and virtual yoga signups. It was a good time to really get moving as we were all stuck at home with nothing much to do.
Exercise can be a tricky thing for many people. We all want to get fit, get toned and lose weight but find it almost impossible to start, or sustain an exercise habit. You have the usual reasons – you feel lazy, you are too busy or you just don’t know where to start.
Worry no more as I have 8 foolproof steps below for anyone who wants to start and sustain an exercise habit.
#1 Design your Environment
Put your running shoes by the door. The night before, take out your exercise kit and lay it out. When you do things like that, you are reducing the cognitive load and effort on your brain required to search for your gear and equipment last minute.
How many of you usually have big plans to exercise, but these fall by the wayside as the day goes on, you feel tired, lose your willpower and no longer feel like exercising cause you do not know where your clothes are?
When you lay out your gear in this manner, it becomes easily accessible and available. Doing so increases the convenience factor and makes it more likely that you’d go out for your run.
#2 Know your trigger
“When…then” statements work incredibly well here. The “when” acts as your trigger event. Examples – “When I shut down my laptop, then I will go for a walk.”, “When it hits 6pm, then I will start my exercise.” “When I’ve done the dishes, then I will do 50 situps”.
To make this association even stronger, pair them with activities that you will DEFINITELY, without question do. This will ensure that you I pair my exercise with the act of shutting down my work laptop at the end of each day. I more often than not, definitely, stay til the end of the day for work.
As we have all been working from home, pairing my exercise routine with the end of my work day also means I’m more eager to get out of the house for a change of scenery, hence am more likely to exercise.
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#3 Schedule it in
Worried that you will never get out of the door for your run if you leave it to chance? Schedule it in your diary. Yes, it’s unsexy but scheduling always works. You’d also be more likely to commit to doing it if you schedule it ahead of time and plan your day around your exercise routine.
I always mark out the days in a week where I want to commit to exercise and see to it that it is done.
#4 Start easy and slow
We can be impatient sometimes and want to start off fast and hard right off the bat. But if you are just starting out on your exercise journey or you have never exercised in your life before this, it is best to start off really easy. Our bodies need time to adjust and if it isn’t used to intense workouts or stretches, so please give yourself time to ease into it.
For instance, as someone who had never did HIIT exercises for years before this, just doing 10 minutes of an intense HIIT workout made my entire body ache for at least a week. I was also so out of breath during the workout I felt I was gonna die.
#5 Do it more often than not
Missed a day? Scheduled a routine in but just didn’t feel up to it? It’s raining and you are feeling lazy? That’s okay. It’s more important to show up more often than not than to beat yourself up for not showing up once.
And now, interrupting this programme – Are you struggling with goal-setting, sustaining your habits, time management and being productive?
Check out my guide on How to Set Goals and sustain habits the practical + intuitive way here! Alternatively, check out the blog for other personal growth and goal setting, habits and time management posts or get in touch with me 🙂
#6 Do something fun
Hate HIIT? Don’t do it. Think yoga is overrated and you can’t get into it? Then don’t. Dislike working out on gym equipment? Then stop. Forcing yourself to like what others are doing, to follow a trend or whatever is “in” at the moment is a surefire way to kill your exercise spirit and momentum.
You want to ensure that this habit is sustainable, so pick something that you personally really enjoy doing. Maybe you are someone who really enjoys brisk walks, or light jogs, or you are someone who is happy with light stretching, or perhaps doing 50 pushups a day is all you want to do. Then follow your heart and stick to those things you feel happy doing.
#7 Reward yourself
To ensure that you sustain your habit, make sure that you are taking breaks and rewarding yourself for the hard work you put in. It could be treating yourself to a nice drink or to 50 minutes in front of the telly, or perhaps a day off from exercising. Whatever it is, ensure that you are positively reinforcing your hard work.
#8 Build on it
Once you’ve got a basic momentum and schedule going, you may want to try upping it a little and getting a littl eout of your comfort zone. Been brisk walking for 45 minutes the past 3 months? Increase that to an hour. Been doing okay with 15 min HIIT workouts? Increase it to 20 min and so on.
The key here is to build gradual momentum and not have a sudden leap in what you want to do – remember point #4, allow your body to ease into these changes and go slow.
If you follow these steps, your life would be transformed. You will see yourself go from not exercising at all to starting something that you used to think was impossible to making it a lifestyle. Exercising would be such an integral part of your life, you never have to consciously build it into your life anymore.
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