As a physiotherapist treating predominantly active people (and a runner myself) I have seen plenty of New Year resolutions fail by the end of January. “Run every day in January” and “Run your first marathon in 16 weeks” are my most popular failures. Here are my top tips for keeping that fitness goal thriving.
Change Your Attitude to Exercise
See exercise as the norm, just like going to work, that way you will instill positive associations with exercise rather than negative, and reap the rewards of longevity.
Make it a Habit
New activities take around 21 days to become a habit but it takes considerably longer - six months to a year - for exercise to become part of being you. Accept this and work towards a goal longer term but plan little goals along the way.
Little and Often
Trying to prioritise exercise when everything seems important is difficult. With small and frequent bouts of exercise, over time you will soon realise that other activities that you thought were important, no longer seem so.
Don’t Over-do it
If you are new to exercise or had a break and are starting back, there is nothing worse than being too sore for days on end as you have overcooked it on your first session, or worse picked up an injury. Start small and build up.
Take a Break from the Screen
Feel that you have no time for exercise? The no. 1 time waster now is social media - think how much exercise you could do when you put your phone down?
Rest and Hydrate
Make sure you look after the other bits that relate to exercise, such as: relaxation, sleep, hydration and good nutrition. It is surprising how these factors can either motivate or de-motivate you.
Don’t Go it Alone
Join a group, even if you can only attend one session per week. It makes workouts so much easier and when you are accountable to others, you are less likely to skip a session when you have made that commitment to someone else as well as yourself.
Keep it Flexible
Expect and plan for setbacks rather than being too rigid in your schedule. If you are fulfilling your sessions 80% you are still achieving. Make a commitment to do a “bare minimum” on your planned workout days. This could be a 10 minute brisk walk or a 4 minute HIIT session.
Mix it up
Find balance and ensure that your workouts are not so intense that they leave you too exhausted for everything else. Add a weekly restorative yoga session into your planned routine.
Give Yourself a Rest
Don’t be too rigid in your plans, make room for adjustments along the way and accept that this is pretty normal for a new exercise routine. Take a day off if tired and seek early help from a physio with any niggles.
Jenny Blizard was speaking on behalf of everyday healthcare company Simplyhealth. As part of their commitment to getting millions moving across the UK, Simplyhealth polled 1000 people who made an exercise-themed resolution for 2018. Of those surveyed:
- A whopping 68% of people would be happy if they only maintained their New Year fitness resolution for January
- 30% of people polled were not even confident that they could keep exercise-themed resolutions going into February
- Just 44% of those surveyed have ever successfully completed a fitness resolution for a full year
- 25% of people depend on social media to help motivate them to stick with their fitness resolution
- ‘Laziness’ was the most common reason given for people giving up on their fitness resolution
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