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Building a new exercise habit

The days are steadily getting longer, the first signs of spring are budding everywhere and the start of the year seems like ages ago already! If, like so many of us, your exercise new years’ resolutions are long gone, it’s time to get serious about including exercise into the weekly routine. Finding balance in your life and keeping yourself moving is vital for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Daily life feels hectic enough so don’t worry, there are plenty of tricks to help set you into the habit. Let’s start simple:

1. Start with a plan

Decide what your motivation factor is - why do you want or need exercise in your life. Set out a weekly schedule of your usual activities and find five spaces to slot 30-40 minutes of exercise into. In my experience these need to be times that you can realistically commit to every single week without fail.

3. Give it 6 weeks

There are many views out there about how long you should stick with an exercise routine before it becomes habit but research has shown that it really depends on you. Aim to stick with your new plan of action for at least six weeks. You will start to notice the changes in your body, mood and energy levels which should help to motivate you to keep going.

4. Mix it up

Choose a form of exercise that works for you. In the morning try something that will feel easy to accomplish like a short run or workout DVD. After work, a bicycle ride or spinning class may be the thing to boost your energy for the evening. Alternatively, if it’s all about stress relief try a more gentle class like Pilates or Yoga.

5. Enjoy it

Choose forms of exercise that you enjoy. If you look forward to your workouts, you are far more likely to keep doing them.

6. Be prepared

Nobody likes to rush around so get prepared. Have your exercise kit ready well in advance to save you precious time and to help you avoid the temptation to put off your session. Planning ahead will make fitting in the 30-40 minutes seem like not such a big ask.

7. Buddy up

If you think you might be tempted to start skipping some of your sessions, think about hiring a personal trainer, find a friend who can join you or sign up for a group class. Making a regular exercise date will help you stick with it.

8. Have a rest day

Plan at least one day in the week on which you have a total rest and take time to indulge in your favourite activity. It’s important to find a balance with all things including exercise. Take that time out and love it!

To sum up, start small and grow from there. Enjoy your sessions and keep focussed on the benefits of your physical efforts. Exercise is not just about losing weight or getting fit, it’s about feeling less stressed, more energized, happier, healthier, getting better sleep, and gaining confidence in yourself and the things you can achieve. “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin.

Go for it!

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