Yesterday was amusing at my gym. It’s that weird January time when there is an influx of people I have never seen before working out really hard. I am pretty confident, that by February we will revert back to an even keel of regulars. I think gyms and other exercise venues do really well out of new year’s resolutions!!!!
But seriously, why is it so hard to stick to our exercise goals? Why is it so hard to stay motivated about staying fit and build it into our life? Intellectually we KNOW that staying fit and healthy is one of the keys to longevity and successful ageing. I can think of nothing worse than being forced to do exercise because my doctor prescribes it due to poor health. Here are seven tips that may help you stick with regular exercise once January is over:
1. Be very clear on your ‘why’ and remind yourself of this often
We each have our own reasons for exercising. Mine is to improve my health span and to be able to travel and be active for as long as I can. For some it may be to avoid the cognitive decline they have seen in other family members, others enjoy the comradery that can come with exercise. Perhaps it is to lose weight or keep up with your grand kids. Before you start a regular exercise programme, do some navel gazing to understand your why and revisit it often.
2. Be realistic
Psychologically one of the biggest issues with setting unrealistic goals that are unattainable, is that they are incredibly demotivating and de-energising. So choose an exercise that is possible, and OK’d by your doctor if you haven’t exercised in a while. Choose a cadence that is doable and you are more likely to stick to. For example, you might start with just 2-3 twenty minute fast walks around the lake per week. Jumping into a 5 days a week, heavy gym session when you haven’t been doing it for some while is too easy to walk away from!
3. Get social and have fun
This is perhaps the most important one! Choose an exercise you enjoy, a trainer or teacher you love working with and a ‘tribe’ of people you like to be around. In my forties, some years ago, I took up fencing for the first time. It was a tough sport that required speed, strategy and real fitness. I think the reason I stuck with it so long was that our coach was such a lot of fun and I worked out and then socialised with a fabulous bunch of people. When they drifted off, in the end I did too, as it wasn’t quite the magnet it had been. I have now moved into cycling and my fellow cyclists, and the smoothies, coffee and cake we consume together, are a big part of the reason I keep turning up.