With the children back to school this week there is no time like the present to restart your usual (or start for the first time) fitness routine. To help you re-establish and sustain your healthy routines consider these six points :-
Planning – write on your calendar your weekly plan for exercise. Denoting specific days and times for each activity, you can repeat weekly, will really help your adherence to the plan. Although you should allow for flexibility within the plan, being as strict as possible initially will help ensure the activities become a habit.
Support – this could be asking a friend or family member to join you in a regular activity or asking your partner to cover for you at home while you take an hour out every Tuesday to go to a yoga class. It could also be subtle support of your family encouraging you in your efforts to be more healthy. Persistence of long term exercise habits is unlikely without appropriate support.
Setting Goals – We all know the acronym relating to goals : specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Goals of both long and short term nature are helpful, and to ensure success in attaining them you could set some commitments. These are statements of intent that lead to healthy habit formation. For example, I commit to running once a week for 20 minutes, cycling twice a week to work, and walking on the other days for 1 hour.
Progression – To improve your chances of sticking to your commitments, factor progression into your exercise plan. If you introduce gradually increasing fitness targets into your activity, the sense of achievement you get when you hit those targets will motivate you to continue the habit. A rule of thumb is to progress exercise volume by not more than 10% a week. The satisfaction gained from knowing you are improving is key to adherence.
Enjoyment – Sounds obvious, but far too often we try to stick with things because we think it will get better. If you are not enjoying the exercise you do try something different. Sustaining an exercise habit is relatively easy if you choose an activity you have fun doing. This is known as intrinsic motivation and is highly associated with habit. Focus on enjoying exercise for its own sake rather than an external outcome.
Prepare for setbacks – Even well planned routines will be hit by obstacles that inhibit optimal participation. It is wise to expect weeks where you can’t be as active as you’d like, due to illness, work commitments and other life events. Accept these weeks as minor setbacks, don’t feel guilty, modify the plan, do a little less and get back on track when you can.
Good luck with your active goals this autumn, and come see us if you need some help!