How to stick with an exercise routine

If your New Year’s resolutions have come unstuck, here’s how to get back on track. By Kirsten Braun

two young women exercising togethe at a gym

It is often at this time of year that we give up our New Year’s resolution of being more active. Rather than abandon resolutions altogether, why not take time to re-evaluate them. Use our tips for finding and sticking to a successful exercise regime.

1. Remember what you loved when you were younger

Did you love netball or riding your bike? Remembering what you enjoyed when you were younger can help you find an activity that is enjoyable today. If you loved dancing, for example, a Zumba class at the local gym might be a good match. Similarly, many sports have non-competitive competitions that you can join where the emphasis is on having fun.

2. Schedule exercise

We diarise important work meetings, children’s extra-curricular activities and social activities but we often forget about exercise. Prioritising exercise in the same way that we do for other commitments is a great way to stick at it. Diarising exercise gives us a clearer idea of where there might be opportunities for any additional activity. Being able to identify how much time is available can also help you find the right activity. For example, a particular day might be too busy for a proper gym workout but there might be time to squeeze in a brisk walk.

3. Exercise with others

In the same way that scheduling exercise works, exercising with others also provides people with an added motivation. No one wants to let their team down by not turning up for practice or game day. Similarly, you are more likely to go for that early morning walk or group personal training session if you know your friend is waiting for you. 

4. Make it challenging

When starting an exercise program we are usually advised to start gradually. While this is true from a physical health point of view, it means we often choose activities that are easy but not very mentally stimulating. Walking around the neighbourhood or using a treadmill at the gym can result in boredom, which often leads to us giving up the activity altogether. Instead, choose an activity that you can still start gradually but that is also challenging for you. Yoga classes, for example, are provided at many different levels so you can start out in a beginner’s class but later move on to more advanced classes. Alternatively, set yourself a goal, such as competing in a local fun run or half marathon.  

5. Plan for different weather

The weather can become an easy excuse for those who are wavering on whether to exercise today or not. Whether it be rain, cold mornings or a heat wave, having alternative exercised planned for these events means you are less likely to stay under the doona or sitting on the couch in the air-conditioning. This might involve having a treadmill at home or knowing of a gym close by that allows casual memberships. Having completely different activities for different seasons, swimming in summer and bike riding in winter, for example, is also a way of reducing the weather’s impact on your exercise regime.

6.  Listen to music

There are numerous studies that show the benefits of playing music while you are exercising. It appears that listening to music can help distract us from the efforts of exercising and can also help to increase our performance. If you have ever forgotten your music or had it malfunction while out for your walk or run, you will know how true this is. Different types of music suit different people and different types of exercise. You can make your own compilation of music you like to exercise to or look online for a suitable playlist.

7. Choose activities that match your personality/lifestyle

One of the main reasons people give up an exercise regime is it doesn’t match well with their personality and/or lifestyle. If you spend most of your working life in an office, then choose an activity that takes place outdoors rather than a gym workout. If your work is very stressful and fast paced, then a yoga or Pilates class might provide a good balance. Mums who care for small children might love the solitude of a run or swim on their own.

Last updated: March 2017

© Women's Health Queensland Wide Inc. This article was written by Kirsten Braun and reviewed by the Women's Health Queensland Wide editorial commitee. it was published in Health Journey 2017 Issue 1.

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