How to Get Fit - Four Habits to Make Exercise Easier

Posted on October 20, 2017

Whether it be working the machines at the gym, running through the forest, or cycling during that spinning class, doing the exercise itself is often the easiest part – it’s the psyching yourself up beforehand that is tricky.

Juliet Hodges, a Behavior Change Adviser at Bupa UK, has boiled it down to 4 habits that everyone can implement, in order to make exercising easier:

1. Start small but often

People who exercise a lot have built it into their lives and made it a habit. Just like any other habit, exercising is easier to continue once it is ingrained in your everyday life: Your brain become accustomed to the activity and does not second guess it. For example, if you run on a Wednesday and do it every week, eventually Wednesday will become your running day without you having to think about it.

The trick to get to this stage is to start small by, for example only running for 5 minutes each day, and later expanding the activity. According to research, completing a tiny version of your goal every day leads to you doing it for longer.

2. Pick the right activity

You know yourself better than anyone, so why commit to start running, when in fact you hate it? Let yourself off the hook, and if running (or any other type of activity) is not for you, then that is okay. However, give yourself some time to really try an activity, before you decide it is not for you. Give yourself a fighting chance when it comes to adopting a new exercise routine and pick something that suits you, to maximize the likelihood of sticking to the plan.

Draw on what you know about yourself in order to pick just the right sport for you. For example, think about activities that you have enjoyed in the past, such as badminton, dancing, or boxing. Also, try not to limit yourself to the ‘classic’ sports such as running, swimming and cycling - maybe fencing, rock climbing, canoeing, wrestling, skating, rowing, or archery is fun for you.

Another aspect to take into account is whether you could start playing a sport with your friends: exercise that requires a pre-commitment (i.e. signing up for a class or making plans with a friend) is difficult to get out of, and therefore you are more likely to go through with your plans.

3. Inspire yourself with motivational material

Surround yourself with inspiring content like podcasts, music, magazine articles and blogs. Material that motivates and inspires you to exercise ‘primes’ you to do it. For example, you can follow Instagram pages that post inspiring pictures or videos of athletes succeeding in your sport, so that scrolling through your news-feed will automatically prime you. Next time you want to skip your workout, listen to your favorite music playlist, read an article about Olympic athletes in your chosen activity. Another trick is to wear your exercise gear around the house, so you are ready to get up and go, without second guessing.

4. Get the timing right

Find the right duration for your sport - whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour – the type of activity you do will guide the length of time you do it for. Some people are a fan of HIIT training because it’s intense but doesn’t take long. Or you might prefer a long bike ride at the weekend. Just because a sport is generally done for a specific amount of time, does not mean you have to adhere to that! Most people go to the gym in the evenings, for an hour or more, but maybe a burst at the gym during your lunch break would work for you. Try to personalize your training as much as possible, to maximize your enjoyment and to get you psyched for your next workout.

Another aspect to take into account is which time of the day you prefer working out:
Morning - Lots of people like to workout first thing in the morning – it gets it out of the way and you start the day on a positive note. Your willpower is also likely to be at its strongest first thing in the morning. Your willpower may fade after you’ve had a day filled with concentrating on tough work challenges and resisting temptation in the canteen.

Noon - If you’re not a morning person then you might want to make the most of your lunch break. A 30-minute walk or gym class is a great way to slot activity into your day so it doesn’t take up your leisure time.

Evening: Evening might be the best time for you – a gentle swim, followed by a light snack and a warm shower for example can be a relaxing way to unwind. Just be careful not to exercise too late or you might have trouble sleeping.

Category(s):Health / Illness / Medical Issues, Sports Psychology

Source material from Bupa Fitness