by Sports Rehabilitator and fitness instructor Daniel Dean
1. Set your goals
There is a plethora of research to show the effectiveness of both short & long term goal setting. Whether it’s returning from injury or building up to your first marathon, goal setting is integral to maintaining adherence and motivation to exercise.
It’s important we’re realistic; it’s easy to get frustrated if we start off too ambitious! Set your long term aim, for example getting back to your favourite 5 mile hike pain free following injury, then set clear short term ‘milestones’ to start you on your pathway to success. In this example, that may include starting with a 10 minute walk five times per week while improving leg stability with some resistance exercises.
2. Be inspired, be inspiring
We are all aware of the many health benefits associated with regular exercising including improved heart and lung function, increased muscle strength and subsequent boosts in energy and attitude as a result. But achieving those results is sometimes very difficult when there are so many things to distract us. Maybe it’s finding the energy after a hard day’s work? Consider switching your workout to a morning or lunchtime slot.
Gain some perspective! Try to enhance your positive thinking by considering the health benefits you will gain by exercising and what obstacles you will need to overcome in order to achieve them.
3. Structure a routine and always have a backup plan
One of the main challenges is fitting exercise into our busy schedules. The department of health recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. Aim to include 3-4 half an hour slots through your week which you can dedicate to you & your health. Consider where else you can promote physical activity; take the stairs when the option presents itself, have a lunchtime stroll if you’ve had to sit at work all morning.
4. Rise to the challenge and make sure you're having fun
However hard you try to maintain your exercise regime, it can be very challenging if it is not an activity you enjoy. Choose an activity that you find fun, whether it’s an aerobics class, dancing or a particular sport, remember to be realistic with your initial fitness expectations. Build into the activity and rise to the challenge as you progress!
Consider undertaking a variety of activities such as dancing. This will work muscle groups in different ways to Pilates & encourage a more rounded fitness.
5. Treat or bribe yourself (or both!)
For the majority of us, the simple aim of ‘improved stamina’ or ‘weight management’ might not cut it for the drive we need to stick to exercise. Remember your goal setting? Implement a treat system each time you meet your short and longer term goals; maybe a visit to your favourite restaurant or a new dress or more simply a luxury chocolate treat!
Studies have shown that if a reward system is in place it alters the brain’s motivation levels to stick to a given activity over time. Your brain learns to associate exercise with positive outcomes and helps to stimulate the further release of endorphins to promote those positive thoughts.
Alternatively, the bribe system can also be very effective. Paying up for a 6 week workout course gives you the financial incentive to complete that activity.