We often think of how to “get fit” when we exercise. Sometimes, however, the difficulty isn’t in starting. Falko Sniehotta is a Newcastle University professor specializing in behavioral medicine and psychology. He says that the biggest problem with exercise is keeping it up. According to the official UK guidelines, adults should engage in strength training, 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly. Health Survey of England in 2016 shows that 34% of men and 42% of women are not meeting aerobic activity targets. Even more, 69% and 77% are not performing enough strength training. A report released by the World Health Organization revealed that the UK is among the countries with the lowest levels of physical activity. 32% of men and 40% of women reported inactivity. Public Health England’s study shows that obesity adds to the list of chronic long-term illnesses cited by the analysis. This report also shows that women are dying earlier in the UK than in other EU countries.
How can we continue to move forward when we lose motivation, when the weather turns bad, or if life gets in our way? These 25 tips from Guardian readers and experts will help you stay motivated.
Michelle Segar, director of the Sport, Health, and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan, believes that our reasons for starting to exercise will determine whether we continue to do so. Society promotes fitness and exercise by relying on short-term motivation and guilt. She says there is some evidence that young people are more motivated to go to the gym if they have an appearance-related reason, but this only lasts past early adulthood. Neither do vague or distant goals (“I want to be fit, I want to lose weight”) help. Segar, author of No Sweat: How Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness, says that we are more likely to succeed if we concentrate on immediate positive feelings, such as stress relief, increased energy, and making new friends. She says the only way to prioritize exercise is to see its benefits in our everyday lives.
Personal trainer Matt Roberts warns that the New Year’s Resolutions approach can lead to people losing motivation or becoming too tired after a few weeks. It will take time to get in shape if you’ve never been active. He recommends that people do high-intensity interval training (HIIT), but only for some days. You can do it twice a week (or even once) and combine it with slow jogs, swimming, and fast walks for at least the first month. This will allow someone to have recovery sessions along with high-intensity exercises.
It’s not necessary to love it
Segar advises that it is best to think about what you enjoy doing – roller skating, for example. Bike riding? You liked it as a kid. You don’t have to love exercise. Many people who exercise regularly say that they feel better.
Sniehotta says that for many people, the obvious choices may differ from what they enjoy. “They need to think outside the box,” he adds. You could try different sports or even simple things like doing activities with others.
Treat yourself with kindness
Motivation – or lack thereof – is just one part of a larger picture. Sniehotta says money, parenting requirements, or even your location can be obstacles. Fatigue, depression, stress at work, or sick family members can affect physical activity. He says that if you have a lot of support around you, it will be easier for you to keep up your physical activity. If you live in a particular part of the country, you may feel more comfortable exercising outdoors than in other regions. It is not a good idea to conclude that those not getting enough exercise lack motivation.
Segar suggests being realistic. Skip the idea of working out five days a week. When you first start, be very analytical and think about your work and family needs. If you set too big a goal, you’ll fail and feel like a failure. After a week, I ask my clients what they did well and what they could have done better. You may have been able to fit in a walk during lunch but didn’t feel energetic after work.
Do not rely on your willpower
Segar says that if you have to use willpower to accomplish something, then you probably don’t want to. Think about the benefits of physical activity and why you are exercising. What can I do to benefit myself today? How do I feel after I move? “How do I feel when I move?”
Take a deep breath
It is often said that gardening and housework can help us reach our weekly fitness goals, but does it work? Roberts says the measure is when you get hot and out of breath. You will be puffing if you are talking to someone while doing this. You would have to do the heavy gardening – digging, not just weddings- to get the most out of gardening. You can turn a walk with your dog into an exercise session by running alongside the dog or finding a route that includes hills.
Take care of yourself and your family
Joslyn Thomson Rule is a personal trainer who says that exercise is generally acceptable if you have a headache, cold, or other symptoms above your neck. Rest if it is below the neck, i.e., if you are having difficulty breathing. It’s essential to be sensible. You would slow down if you were going to do a high-intensity workout. But sometimes, just moving around can make you feel good. You want to go back to training only a few days a week. You could do the same number of sessions but shorten or do less.
After pregnancy, it is essential to take it slow
Thompson Rule says to listen to your body and your doctor’s advice at your six-week check-up. Following a cesarean, returning to exercise is slower. Back injuries caused by pregnancy and abdominal muscle problems can also delay your return to training. Physiotherapy may be required. Thompson Rule says starting a new exercise regime is a big undertaking after having a child, especially if you walk and have more energy. “Be patient. “Be patient.” I receive more emails than anything else from women who want to know when their stomachs will be flat again. Relax, take good care of yourself, and your baby will follow. Once you feel more energetic, gradually get back to your normal routine. She suggests starting with the “very basics,” like walking and wearing your baby in a sling.