It’s this time of year that you start to think about implementing an exercise regime. The weather is right for outdoor activities, you’re probably over-indulging with the Christmas festivities and you have started to think about a New Year’s resolution. If you want to want to change your attitude to being fit and active once and for all, follow these few simple steps.
Ease into It
If you haven’t been doing much exercise in recent years, don’t rush into signing up for a half marathon. Start with brisk walking, slowly increasing your distance and pace each day before moving on to jogging and running. You don’t want to lose motivation or cause yourself an injury in the early days. Fitness levels take time to build up.
Keep it interesting
If you do the same exercise day in day out, chances are you are going to get bored. Try several different activities and stick to at least two you enjoy so that you are working different muscles. Keep variety in your exercise so it doesn’t become monotonous. By including aerobic, resistance and core exercises in your routine, you’ll know your full body is getting a work-out.
Improve your Diet
If you take an interest in the calorie count of foods and you know how many minutes of exercise they take to burn off, you might want to change your diet. An improved diet will make you feel energised and ready to tackle exercise. When you want to enjoy a treat, it will taste even better knowing you have worked hard for it!
Involve the Family
Make it a lifestyle change for the family not just yourself. With the support of your partner or children you are more inclined to stick with it. Decide that you will go for a walk every morning with your partner or tell the kids you are going to take them to the park regularly to ride a bike, throw the ball or go for a run around the oval. The bonus is your kids will be away from their electronics and learning good habits they will take with them into adulthood.
Find an Accountability Partner
If you aren’t going to exercise with family, find a friend you can exercise with. Studies show you are more inclined to exercise if you have a friend waiting to walk with you or meet you at the gym. It can be too easy not to exercise if you aren’t letting down anyone but yourself. You are also less inclined to cut a session short if you aren’t exercising alone.
If you need the motivation to push yourself a bit harder, try a group fitness program. You will have others to pace yourself against and a trainer who will encourage you to go a little harder and faster. Also, if you have paid for lessons, you may not be so quick to stop going.
Make exercise part of your routine
Don’t try to fit in exercise when you have time because chances are you won’t find it. Look at your schedule and decide that being fit is important so you will enter exercise time on your calendar before anything else. If you can’t do a 30-minute block, break it up into two 15 minute sessions at different times of the day.
Exercise for your brain as well as your body
The benefits of regular exercise don’t stop at our physical health. When we are exercising, the brain releases the feel-good chemical endorphins which improve our mood. Exercising outdoors in the fresh air with a hit of vitamin D from the sun can also help brighten our outlook on life. Interacting with family, friends or workout partners gives us a feeling of support and belonging.
If you have a bad week because you weren’t able to exercise as often as you would have liked, don’t throw in the towel. Put last week behind you and make a commitment that this week will be better.
We know that for good overall health we should do 30 minutes of exercise five times per week but most Australian adults aren’t achieving it. Commit to giving up your sedentary lifestyle and introduce exercise into your daily routine for a longer, happier life.