7 ways to kickstart your exercise regime this new year and how to keep them
When you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. When it’s been a month since you’ve seen the inside of a gym (and you’ve indulged in lots of treats over the festive season), a little extra force is required.
Whether it’s a busy job, hectic family life, time management, fatigue or stress - let’s break down the mental walls keeping you from those all-important training habits. And good habits don’t just stop when January ends - it’s all about maintaining those habits, too.
1. Set realistic goals
Set the bar low and start small: this could mean aiming for half an hour daily, or twice a week if you’re struggling to find time to exercise. Starting small means it’s easier to succeed; you’ll build on that confidence and push yourself harder.
2. Track (and plan) progress
Write down your training as and when you did it - how many miles you pounded on the treadmill, whether you’ve upped your lengths in the pool or even if you perfected a new yoga move. Use Sunday evenings as a time to review this progress and schedule your workout times for the rest of the week. Watch yourself improve and you’ll rarely find an excuse to skip training.
3. Enjoy yourself
No one likes the thought of punishing cardio after a lazy holiday season. Choose something rewarding enough to make you feel good about doing it - even look forward to it - and you’re less likely to throw in the towel. Vary your routine: try different classes and equipment and find what works for you.
4. Find a workout buddy
Never underestimate the power of family or friends rooting for you - it can make all the difference to sticking to your training. The social aspect boosts your commitment: you may find it easy to cancel on your own plans but cancelling on someone else is a lot harder.
5. Make exercise a ritual
Our ‘New Year’s resolutions’ are simply a fancy way of saying we’ll try forming better habits. Try exercising at the same time each day to establish it as a routine. For example, if you make yourself go to the gym straight after work every day (when you’d much rather lay on the sofa with a glass of wine), your habit should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual.
6. Link training to stress relief
What do you do when you’re stressed? Chances are, your answer isn’t always ‘I go to the gym’. Remind yourself that exercise is the perfect way to relieve stress and release those feel-good endorphins. The next time you’ve had a rough day or feel a bit groggy, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief and improved mood is linked to exercise, you’ll be more likely to make it a habit - and even crave it.
7. Be nice to yourself
When you’re starting from zero, it’s easy to start comparing yourself - and your habits - to those of other people. That kind of negative thinking will end with you giving up on your goals. If you go to the gym to push yourself, gain health and energy and have a good time, then you’re doing it right - regardless of results.