“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.” 

Sometimes when life gets busy exercise is one of those things that we don’t prioritise high enough. I know, I didn’t train for years but now I couldn’t imagine my life without regular exercise.  The problem is, once you quit moving so do our endorphins and it gets a little depressing.

But don’t feel like you have to become an athlete overnight or be able to run a marathon is 2 months time.  It’s actually better if you commit to making small changes in your daily routine instead of reinventing yourself overnight, because you are more likely to stick with it. Small changes in habits can lead to lasting, permanent change. So think baby steps and incorporate exercise into your life with these 10 tips.

#1 Make time…no matter how busy…make the time!

Clock

We think we don’t have time but we actually do. Think about how much time you waste on things like social media and watching TV…. Try to find a time that will work for you, even if it’s only for 30 mins. For me this is first thing in the morning, at 5.30 before the day has started for the rest of the family. It might sound hard but once you’re used to it becomes a routine and getting out of bed is really not a lot harder at 5 than at 6.30, I promise…. You also feel amazing and ready to tackle the day once it’s done. Start by committing to getting some activity regularly. Schedule exercise like any other appointment in your calendar and treat it as a commitment rather than something you squeeze in if you have time. Even if you can only do15 minutes at a time, schedule it. Once it’s become a routine you will just do it without having to rely on your motivation, because let’s face it we all have days when self motivation is lacking and that’s when a strict routine of “this is simply what I do” comes in very handy.

#2 Find something you love to do!

Spartan goal

You need to do something you love, if not, there’s no chance you’ll stick to it. I love CrossFit and boxing. I know it sounds funny, but I get a thrill being able to lift those weights and I love how it makes me feel, strong and able to take on anything. Boxing is also an amazing stress buster. But you may love yoga or pilates or running or maybe walking is your thing! It really doesn’t matter as long as you do something you’re likely to stick with it.

A good way to find out what type of exercise is right for you is to first figure out if you like to exercise alone, with a partner or in a group. You may have to experiment a little bit before you know. Experiment until you find an exercise that energizes you physically and mentally.  Some people like to play.  If that is you then join a team sport, maybe something you did as a kid?  Sometimes if you pair it with being social then it doesn’t feel like exercise.

#3  Incorporate movement into your day!

Bikes

Remind yourself to move more throughout the day. Sit less and stand more. Whenever you can, always take the stairs instead of the lift. Get off the bus stop onestop earlier or park a little bit further away. Walk to talk with a colleague instead of emailing them. Stretch in your chair, squat to pick something up, stand up when you talk on the phone and do some exercises while you watch TV. There are numerous ways you can sneak more movement into your day. Remember we all need a minimum of 10,000 steps a day!

#4 Clarify what you want to achieve

Road

 

Do you want to lose weight, de-stress, build strength, rebuild your knees? Set a few goals and break them down into achievable steps. If you need help with this I incorporate goal setting sessions into all my programs to determine your lifestyle goals.

Having a goal like completing a running race, a long swim or an obstacle race is also great for motivation. Remind yourself daily of your why. It’s easy to get off track if you aren’t reminding yourself of why working out and eating healthy is important to you. If you make it automatic to wake up and remind yourself of why exercise is important to you, you will be more likely to keep your commitments to yourself. You will also be putting exercise front and center in your day instead of treating it as an afterthought that you skip at day’s end. Wake up thinking of what exercise you will do today and it becomes a priority.

#5 Focus on health rather than numbers a scale

Scale

Many people  get discouraged and give up when there’s too much focus on weight loss. Rather than just focus on a certain weight goal, focus on the joys of exercise and how amazing you feel afterwards instead. Feel  your body getting stronger and your new ability to exercise for longer, even if it’s just in small steps.

Also take time to think about the reasons that you really want to exercise on an emotional level, this is important because you can use those thoughts to motivate you. Usually what really motivates you are more significant than just being a certain weight.  Think about what it is for you. Maybe you want to have more energy or you want to be in more control of your health—whatever is your core motivation—connect to it.

#6 Add strength training

Lifting

Exercise isn’t just cardio. Strength training is important to retain muscle, gain a strong body and an effective metabolism.

Strength training can be as simple as old fashioned body weight exercises like push ups, sit-ups, planks, squats and burpees in various combinations. I will be blogging more about strength training coming up but try this a couple of times a week:

6-10 rounds for time of:

10 push-ups

10 deep squats

10 sit-ups

You can divide strength training up throughout the week. Try two days a week to start with and work up to three. Strength training will change how you feel, help you conquer your workouts with all that new muscle you are developing, and it’s the secret to a revved up metabolism.

#7 Get more out of a shorter amount of time.

Running

That is the principle of high intensity interval training (HIIT).  The idea is that you start out slowly and build up to intense bursts of effort.  You do this about 10 times and you have a really good workout.  Bill Phillips recommends you do 5/25 – you go 2 minutes walking, 2 minutes jogging and then run as fast and hard as you can for 1 minute, do this 5 times.  You can vary it any way you want.  Tests have shown that this works for reducing body fat levels.

#8 Remind yourself of why exercise is essential for a happy, healthy life

Girl jumping on beach

It helps to know that if you don’t work out on a regular basis that you are going to get sick.  Exercise prevents heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, osteoporosis and arthritis (just to name a few).  Exercise makes you smarter (proven), leaner and healthier.  However, rather than long term health benefits you might find it more motivating to think of the immediate benefits like more energy, reduced stress, increased productivity, better sleep and increased happiness— all of this achieved today! Think about all that you get if you work out today!

#9  Stretch post workouts

Stretching

 

Stretching is one of those things that’s easy to forget to do but it’s so important. Stretching after exercise can help relax and balance tension caused by the workout itself. Post-workout, when your body is warm is the ideal time to stretch. The risk of muscle injury is much lower, and you will save yourself from tight, sore muscles the following day. Plus, the calm, relaxing feeling of a good stretch is a great way to end a workout.

#10 Make exercise part of your daily life and enjoy it!

Try some of the above steps to make exercise a part of your life. Remember, a great way to avoid skipping workouts is to ask yourself how you will feel afterwards. You can feel proud of your efforts and feelings  of accomplishment, or you can be disappointed and defeated that you skipped it, again…….