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5 ways to make exercise a habit

For many, a summer holiday is motivation to get fit and healthy. But after returning from two weeks of sunshine and indulgence, getting back in the fitness swing of things is often easier said than done – and many struggle to find their fitness mojo. This is especially important considering the recent news that increased regular physical activity (even an extra few rounds of golf) may reduce someone’s chances of developing five chronic diseases. So if you’re struggling to regain your motivation, or simply want tips on making exercise a habit, read on:

1. Remember what the post-workout buzz feels like

Getting to the gym is often the hardest step, so you need to remind yourself how good it feels to have completed a workout. According to the Stress Management Society, keeping fit has a huge impact on your mental state. Feel-good chemicals like serotonin and endorphins are released, acting as a natural mood-booster.

2. Set a goal

Studies have shown that goal setting is an effective strategy for behaviour change and a way to maintain motivation. Why not sign up to the Couch to 5k® app that helps beginners start running? Or for a slightly tougher challenge, opt for a 10k or half marathon event. With its picturesque, relatively flat course, the Royal Parks Half Marathon is great for half marathon newbies. For more information click here.

3. Find a buddy

Not only are you less likely to quit on a workout if exercising with a friend, but also you’re more likely to amp up the effort. A Kansas State University researcher discovered that working out with a particularly fit friend might mean your workout intensity and duration is increased by 200%.

4. Walk it out

For a simple way to be more physically active, swap the bus and the car for a walk. Walking might not be as cool as a spin or dance class, but it’s still effective tool for keeping fit. Although a small study, research presented at the European Society of Cardiology by Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St. George’s University Hospitals discovered that a 20-minute daily walk could be adding years to your life. The average person walks 3000-4000 steps a day, but the NHS suggest aiming for 10,000 steps a day. A good way to do this….

5. … Is by monitoring your progress

In a Harvard University blog, Linda Arslanian, director of rehabilitation services at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital reveals that she believes fitness trackers and pedometers are helpful. She tells the author: ‘When you can see what your activity levels are, and you know that someone is checking them, there’s accountability, and you’re motivated to work harder because you want to comply.’ She adds that she uses similar techniques with patients and clients. Some fitness trackers also monitor sleep and other healthy lifestyle factors. If exercising for the first time, it’s always wise to consult a fitness expert or health professional for advice.

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