I may be late in saying it, but Happy New Year!
I don’t generally make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to set myself a few goals (my writing goals can be found on my Twitter). Having said that, I do see the appeal of a using the new year as a fresh start. I recently all but stopped exercising when I failed to make a new routine to go with my new job, and so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to join millions of others and resolve to exercise more. (My body had other ideas as I went into 2019 with laryngitis and a chest infection, but hey, better late than never, right?).
With that in mind, here are three tips to help you make an exercise habit that sticks.
Find What’s Right For You
It may seem obvious, but you’re more likely to keep exercising if you enjoy it. The self-flagellation mentality around exercise as a ‘punishment’ for eating is a terrible mindset if you want to actually live a healthier, happier life.
Believe it or not, you can find a way to work out that’s fun for you. Maybe you like organised sport. Maybe you like swimming. Personally, I use four apps simultaneously when I go running to make it bearable. So blast some music, get kit that makes you feel good, and don’t stop trying things until you’ve found your sweet spot.
We all know that exercising is easier once you’ve formed a habit, but how do you drag yourself to those first sessions? Easy: the fear of public embarrassment.
It’s one thing to make a deal with yourself that you’ll go for a jog after work. You will find that you are a pushover, especially when you’re tired. Instead, tell someone else your plans, and make sure they check up on you. Ideally this should be someone you live with or who will see you in person to stop you from lying, but you wouldn’t lie to your friends, would you?
Even better, rope the friend into going with you and being your exercise buddy. If you don’t go, they probably won’t go either, and so you’ll be letting them down if you back out. Maybe you could both join a sports club, so even more people know when you’ve skipped a week.
Just make sure the guilt of missing one session doesn’t turn into quitting for good. You can always get back on the horse (especially if it’s a horse-riding club).
If all else fails, you can always guilt trip yourself. Oh, you’re too tired for the gym today? Looks like that hefty membership fee will go to waste. Don’t feel like attending this week’s exercise class? You still won’t get a refund on the semester. It’s not the ideal motivation, sure, but it is one I used myself in paying to set up this blog. If it works, it works.
And trust me, those subscription apps sitting on your home page will haunt you every time you unlock your phone until you give in and get your spandex leggings on.
Hopefully you’ll be able to make at least one of those tips work for you. If you combine all three maybe something will stick. Of course, the main motivation for exercise should always be to become healthier and to help your body and mind do their jobs more effectively.