Get the exercise habit back

Posted on: 29 December 2009 by Mark O'haire

Health and fitness expert Louise Day shows you how to kick start your New Year's exercise regime.

Read on if you are feeling guilty that you've neglected your regular exercise routine over the Christmas period, or if you are seeking advice on kick-starting those exercise New Year's resolutions.

Get back to your routine

Your first step is to get back to doing some kind of exercise. Even the smallest exercise goal is a step in the right direction and can remind you of your commitment to getting healthy, losing weight, or whatever your goal might be.  Start small and ease your way back into a regular routine, setting goals you know you can reach. Even if it's a 10-minute walk after dinner or before work, it's a signal to yourself that you want to stay active.

Be prepared

Having everything you need to complete your workout is half the battle, getting started is often the hardest part of working out. If you have your clothes and gear ready to go, your workout planned, your bag packed and your snacks handy, you've taken away some of the reasons to skip your workout.

Where to start?

Choose activities that you enjoy and suit your personality. If you are shy or self-conscious for example there are a number of home exercise videos to choose from. If you are competitive and like games, then tennis, squash or badminton might suit. Variety is also the key to keep things interesting. If you like the social aspect of classes attend a mixture of salsa, body conditioning and aqua for example.  If you need one to one guidance and motivation then why not book a session with a personal trainer? 

But if you do not have access to a gym or fitness instructor, to get health/fitness results you need to understand the amount of exertion required during your workout.  A simple way to do this is to think on a scale of 1-10.  One represents no activity, and 10 maximum effort, so aim to exercise at various intensities between 6 and 9.  For health related benefits aim to address the components of fitness: cardiovascular, resistance training and flexibility.

Small steps before giant steps

There is nothing more motivating then success. Setting realistic short-term goals such as running a mile on the treadmill rather than a marathon, or working out 3 times a week instead of 5, is crucial to the long-term success of your fitness programme. Setting simple and attainable goals keeps your motivation high.  Remember instant results are something that we all crave but there are no quick fixes when it comes to getting in shape and staying in shape.

Be flexible

Being prepared doesn't mean you'll never miss a workout, but, you can increase your chances of getting some exercise in each day by being flexible. That means a willingness to change your plans as needed so that you can meet your other obligations while still moving your body.  If you find you can't go to the gym because your boss asked you to work late, what could you do instead?  Don't abandon exercise just because you can't get your planned workout in.

Stop kicking yourself

We all feel guilty when we mess up-skipping workouts or eating too much of the wrong foods. Guilt can be a great motivator, but it can also be a hindrance if you use it as an excuse to abandon your healthy lifestyle altogether.  That 'why bother' attitude can keep you stuck in a self-defeating cycle so, instead of feeding on that guilt, use it to propel you forward.  Realize that slipping back into old habits doesn't mean you're loser-we all need to go back to old behaviours to test them out, remember how it felt to be that sedentary person as opposed to the new, more active person we want to become.

Don't give up

Making exercise a habit is a journey, not a destination. It's something you'll work on every day.  Some days you'll do everything right, other days you won't. Focus on what you can do today to reach your goals and stop reaching for perfection. You're human and are allowed to make mistakes.

The only difference between a person who fails at exercise and a person who succeeds comes down to never giving up. A successful exerciser isn't perfect but, rather, keeps trying despite mistakes and failures. The next time you slip up, skip the guilt and allow yourself to use that slip up as a learning experience.

Sensible precautions

  • Before starting to work out make sure you get a full physical from your doctor and a letter stating it is ok for you to do physical activity. Many gyms will require this before letting you start.
  • Wear suitable clothing and footwear for the activity that you choose to do.
  • Drinking plenty of water is important. When you exercise your body loses plenty of water when you sweat so it's important to rehydrate yourself. Water will also help cleanse your body and it's good for your skin.
  • It is also important to make sure you stretch each time before and after your exercise.

Louise DayChampneys Wellbeing & Fitness Director, Louise Day

With over ten years experience in health and fitness, Louise oversees all the Champneys Wellbeing programmes. She also manages the health and fitness professionals in the group ensuring that each guest receives one to one and group tuition of the highest standard. She also develops the wellbeing and fitness services to provide each guest with an up-to-date programme of health education.

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