Many of us start January with New Year’s resolutions to improve our health and fitness. According to statisa 47% of Brits site more exercise and improving fitness as a goal for the start of the year. But how can these changes in routine and mindset extend past the first month of the year (or even the first week) to become a permanent commitment?
Make fitness a habit
Phillipa Lally and team conducted a study into how habits are formed and found that, on average, it took about 66 days for participants’ new behaviours to become a habit. Although it varied considerably from 18 days for some to 254 days for others, repetition and creating cues were key to changing behaviour.
The good news is that missing one instance did not usually derail the participants progress. However, those that were very inconsistent in performing the behaviour they wanted to make a habit were more likely to fail.
Carving out a time of day that works best for you, such as lunchtime or before work on weekdays could help your chances of making a real change and sticking to your fitness goals.
The good old saying ‘variety is the spice of life’ can be applied to fitness too. Finding something you love to do is important as exercise shouldn’t be a chore.
When you think of exercise, you most likely think of the physical benefits like improved fitness, weight loss or toning but many styles of exercise really engage the brain too. If you wish to increase your capacity to learn or improve your memory, cardio fitness may be best for you. If you struggle with concentration, aerobic exercise may help and if you have a task that requires you to be creative, a walk can help you tackle the challenge. Read more about these benefits here.
Not only will variety help to keep you interested and engaged in your fitness but it will also work different parts of the body. Performing the same exercises repeatedly may not only lose its appeal over time but it’s likely to become less challenging as your fitness improves. It’s therefore important to diversify your workout with a variety of activities. Try incorporating strength training, core exercise, balance, stretching and aerobic exercise into your plan.
If you want to find something new, you can use our search engine to filter styles.
Group exercise classes
Group exercise classes are a great way to connect with other like-minded people and to increase accountability. You are less likely to skip a session if you have signed up to a series of classes or have to why you weren’t at a class.
Classes can also be a positive way to gain peer support so you push yourself further than you would with a solo workout. You may get just a tad competitive, in a good way.
Join a community (running/walking/group) for support
If your preferred type of exercise isn’t typically something you do in a group, you don’t have to go it alone. You can join a community, whether that is online or local walking (https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/activity/walking/walking-groups/find-a-walking-group), running 9https://runtogether.co.uk/) or cycling group (https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups). Not only is it a great way to find support but can lead to great friendships or awareness of local events and competitions that you can take part in.
Track and celebrate your success – reward yourself
It doesn’t have to be all work and no play! Finding time to track (you can use sites like this https://www.myfitnesspal.com/exercise/lookup or keep your own record) , celebrate and reward yourself for your achievements is a great way to keep your motivation.