The hardest part of exercise is getting started – the next hardest is staying with it.
Thankfully, if you can stay with an exercise regime for just 28 days then your chance of sticking with it in the long term goes through the roof.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do to dramatically increase your chances of success. Consider the following simple secrets for establishing an exercise regime and sticking with it:
Choose an exercise you like: Doing something you like, or at least can tolerate, is the critical decision in maintaining an exercise regime.
Try not to worry too much about which is the best exercise, or what the latest fads are: any exercise will be good, whether it’s swimming, jogging, rowing, tennis, golf, cross-training or ballroom dancing. The main thing is it’s enjoyable and makes you feel good.
Mix it up with the power of three: Mixing it up with exercise at three different intensity levels – low, medium and high intensity – is far more beneficial for your fitness, and makes your exercise regime more interesting.
Low intensity exercise includes walking, gentle swimming, gardening and so on, ideally at least five days per week.
Medium intensity exercise is pushing yourself to somewhere between five-and-a-half and seven out of 10 in terms of exertion. Moderate exercise may include running, cycling, fast walking or swimming. This should be two to three times a week, and for about 25-45 minutes a time.
Finally, aim consider a high intensity routine three times a week. How high is high? Push yourself to eight-and-a-half out of 10 intensity – it’s just a step back from going at full capacity, because any higher than this can invite injury. This is not recommended for those with health problems and those with a heart condition. If in doubt, see your doctor.
High intensity workouts can be short yet effective. I have seen great results with a three-minute workout I developed, which is adaptable for anyone at any level of fitness.
Buddy up: You may have friends or family who also want to make a change – if they have a positive attitude for staying active then you could help each other enormously.
Be careful about your choice of partner – a positive partner will help you to new heights and help you stick with the routine. But a negative partner may end up draining your energy and only inspire you to give up.
Use smart apps to stay accountable: There are many useful apps available for free on your smartphone, such as the Kinrgize app, that are great tools for keeping you accountable.
Look for apps that track and rank your activity – this may require some daily inputs but a minute or two logging your routine is worth it to track your progress and keep you engaged with your exercises. Ideally the app will also provide you some exercise tips.
Avoid pushing through pain: Too many fitness regimes are de-railed by injury. Getting injured shouldn’t put a stop to your fitness journey, but there are a couple of key things to remember. Number one is don’t push through pain. If while exercising you experience genuine pain then it’s time to be cautious and stop. Note, this is different from stiffness or discomfort – you may be able to work through these gently, but pain is your body’s signal to stop.
If you do pick up an injury remember that recovery is possible – you may just need an assessment and treatment from a physiotherapist. Keep moving within tolerable pain levels while you can. Some people cease all physical activity completely when they pick up an injury, and this is a big mistake that may delay your recovery even more.