It is no secret that regular physical activity is good for your health. If your doctor hasn’t said it to you, you’ve undoubtedly seen a news story or blog about all the great things moving more can do for you. Unfortunately, knowing you should exercise and actually developing a habit are not the same. These seven strategies can help you get moving more.
- Work With a Trainer
Personal trainers are excellent at holding you accountable to your new routine. They can also ensure you choose appropriate exercises that will move you closer to your fitness goals, which is especially important when starting out.
Trainers are also great when you want to start new exercises. They can explain things like quick meals for optimal nutrition and the benefits of plyometric training that will help you progress.
- Start Small
This cannot be said enough. Jumping into a new fitness routine that is too ambitious can be disastrous. A few of the potential negative consequences include:
- Sore muscles
- An injury
- A lack of time for other things
The easiest way to avoid these pitfalls is to start slowly. Begin your new habit with one exercise program, such as a HIIT class twice a week. Once you are used to that, you can add something else in. Don’t be surprised if it takes a few weeks (or longer) to get used to each step.
- Put Exercise on Your Calendar
It can take several months to develop a new habit. However, adding your workouts to a calendar and setting reminders helps ensure you stay on track in the beginning. It also ensures you have enough time set aside for physical activity so you don’t skip sessions later in the week when things start piling up.
- Make Time for Sleep
Sleep is necessary to keep your body running at its best. Most adults need between seven and nine hours per night, so that’s an excellent goal to strive for. However, if you are way off that mark, try increasing how much sleep you get by 30 minutes a night to start. You can gradually add more over time. A few tips to help you fall asleep more quickly and stay that way all night include:
- Lowering the temperature in your bedroom
- Eliminating lights and mirrors from your room
- Using aromatherapy
- Limiting caffeine before bed
- Turning off electronics an hour before you go to bed
- Incorporate Stretching
Physical activity can take many forms, and stretching is an important one. It helps increase flexibility, reduces strain and injury, and promotes relaxation. Try to include a short stretching routine in all of your workouts. If you can’t make that work, consider doing a quick yoga sequence every morning to get your day started.
- Enlist a Fitness Buddy
Asking a friend to join your fitness journey helps in several ways. First, it holds you accountable to your planned activities. It also gives you access to someone you trust to share everything from frustrations to triumphs. That may be why people who start exercising with friends have better success rates.
- Track Your Progress
It’s also a good idea to track your progress as you work to form this new habit. Many people find using one of the many apps available to track exercise and performance metrics convenient. If that isn’t your style, try using a fitness journal instead. This is a low-tech but powerful tool that you can look back on for inspiration and understanding. Be sure to include feelings and thoughts as much as facts and figures to create a complete picture of your journey.
Pairing up with a fitness buddy or personal trainer, using patience to build a program slowly and setting aside time each week for fitness are all helpful when you start exercising. While there is no guarantee that these strategies will get you to the gym each week, they can help you develop healthy fitness habits if implemented properly.