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Many of us get excited to try a new exercise class or take up a new sport, but how do we stay motivated to keep this going?
Yesterday was National Fitness Day, and the media reported that it is getting more difficult for us Brits to fit exercise into our busy lives, with 20% of people citing being too busy with work as a barrier to being more physically active. We also spend more time than ever on the couch, with 64% of us spending at least six hours each day sitting - and this sedentary lifestyle is actually increasing our risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
We all get the occasional burst of motivation to sign up to a new hot yoga class we read about or embark on a 30-day boot camp, but then work and family life gets in the way and it’s easy to put our fitness regime on the back-burner. It may seem difficult to make exercise part of your regular routine, so here are some tips to keep you motivated on your fitness journey.
1. Lighten your goals
Having clear sets of goals is really important when embarking on a fitness regime but, according to psychologists, setting them too high can leave us overwhelmed and therefore more likely to fail and then give up altogether. So rather than deciding to go for an hour run every day, set yourself a more achievable goal like building up to a 2k run. When you achieve your first goal, reward yourself for your hard work and set yourself another one to work towards. You’ll feel so satisfied that you’ve achieved what you set out to do that you’ll be spurred on to continue!
2. Track your progress
It seems fitness trackers are here to stay, with an estimated 103 million sales in 2016 alone, and set to reach 125 million by the end of this year. And they can really help you monitor your performance over time. But you don’t need to shell out on the latest gadget to monitor your progress. Keeping a daily diary of your performance, either through an app or a simply writing it down in a notebook, can help you to see the progress you’re making. Then whenever you feel like you’ve hit a wall in your exercise programme, you can remind yourself of how far you’ve actually come.
3. Don’t go it alone
Research suggests that sharing our goals with other people makes us more likely to achieve them, as it makes us more accountable. One study showed people who posted progress photos documenting their weight loss lost 1.2 lbs per week, compared to just 0.3lbs for those who kept it to themselves. Being part of a group or team encourages you to stick to your exercise plans - you don’t want to let your team down when you’ve promised to go on that 6am run now do you? It also gives you the chance to build a community with other people of similar interests. After all, exercise may be necessary for a healthy lifestyle, but it can be fun at the same time!
4. Follow inspirational athletes
We all know social media is a huge influencer, with bloggers and celebrities earning huge amounts of money to endorse products. A new survey suggests that following fitness accounts can also have a positive impact on our own fitness levels. A study published this week by UK Active showed that over 40% of 18-24 year-olds say Instagram has a positive impact on their motivation to be active. So if you are really keen to take up a new sport or form of exercise, following people already in that field will help to keep you inspired. It will also give you a chance to learn from those who have been there, done that, so you avoid making the same rookie mistakes.
5. Know your inner health
We may all want to make improvements to our fitness, but one of the great benefits of exercise is the effect it has on your inner health. With a Medichecks blood test you can get a clear picture of your health before you embark on a new fitness regime, and then again a few months down the line. Seeing the improvements you can make to markers like cholesterol and blood sugar in just a few months will encourage you to adopt these changes long-term as part of a healthy lifestyle and not as just a one-off fitness kick.