Make Fitness a Habit
We spoke with Kate Park about restarting and sticking with your fitness or sports training routine.
How do you re-engage after pausing your exercise routine, whether from injury or inertia? And how do you motivate yourself to stick to it?
Establish a habit. Give yourself the best chance of success by scheduling your fitness or sports time regularly. Make an appointment with yourself and actually put it on your calendar. By doing the same activity every day or each week you create consistency—the key to success. Try it for a month and then review how your routine timing is working. Adapt it as necessary depending on your other commitments.
Try looking at fitness as part of a bigger picture. What are your overall health goals? Are you doing this to win and be competitive? Or is it to combat a health concern, such as building strength to combat osteoporosis? Being fully conscious of your goals, will help keep your routine on track.
Set a start date. Be clear with yourself by writing it down and start looking forward to it.
Prepare to begin. Do you have the right equipment and sports clothing/shoes? Are you engaging in an activity that is appropriate for you and at a level that is appropriate? Set yourself up for success and prevent injuries, by starting gently and increasing intensity as you become more active. This is especially important if you haven’t done it for awhile. Give yourself permission to reset your baseline from when you stopped. For instance, if you are restarting yoga and used to be able to take a level three class, maybe restart at level one for a few weeks to get your body used to the challenges. If you stopped running at 5K daily, start again at slowly jogging 3K and work up. Allow yourself time to work back to where you were.
Get social. Walking or biking with a friend can be great motivation.
Be imperfect. For the first month, accept imperfections in your performance. Remember, you are starting again. That’s most important, not how well you perform. At the end of the month, evaluate what worked and what didn’t in terms of establishing the habit rather than judging your performance. Once you’ve established the habit, you can add performance-linked goals if that’s your aim.
Rewards beyond wins. Beyond the intrinsic healthy outcomes of exercising, if rewards motivate you, tell yourself, if I meet my goal 60% of the time for one month, I will book a massage or have lunch with a friend or buy that cute new tennis skirt! Be kind to yourself, if you've made the effort to engage in health affirming behaviours then it's already a win!
One more thing, willpower is like a muscle…it gets tired. If you are having trouble finding motivation, maybe you need to take a day off here and there. You can also try working out early in the day before you’re fatigued from other activities—and then congratulate yourself for starting the day off so well!
Read more about amping it up for a positive fitness and sports mindset.