It’s only been 2 months into the new year and already you’ve dropped off the fitness bandwagon. Whatever the deterrent may be – overcrowded gyms, snow or freezing rain dumps, or work fatigue (already!) – you may feel discouraged and tempted to go back to the vicious cycle of Netflix and potato chips.
Research clearly shows the health benefits of exercise for the body, soul and mind. But why is it so hard to maintain our exercise routine?
Here are 3 questions and recommendations from a physiotherapy standpoint as you consider incorporating physical activity into your lifestyle.
1) Goals: do you have any fitness goals, and are they realistic?
Goals are unique to each individual and can be a powerful driver in pursuing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is also important to set realistic goals based on your current fitness level and the time you have to invest into this. If you are a sedentary person just starting to exercise, it is probably not wise to set a goal of finishing a marathon in the first 6 months. Setting realistic goals will help you to exercise safely and you are more likely to follow through when you know the goal can be achieved.
2) What is your motivation to exercise?
Exercise psychology suggests that those who exercise for intrinsic reasons (i.e. for the enjoyment of the activity) are more likely to be consistent with exercise compared with those who exercise for extrinsic reasons (e.g. to look physically attractive for others). Find an activity or a sport which energizes you and gives you satisfaction, and you will naturally want to keep doing it!
3) Do you have an exercise buddy?
Talking to and/or exercising with friends or family members who are also interested in fitness can help you to maintain your healthy lifestyle. During those tough days when the last thing you want to do is hit the gym, your buddy will give you that little push to say yes to exercise.
For general physical activity guidelines from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP), visit http://www.csep.ca/…/Guidel…/CSEP_PAGuidelines_adults_en.pdf