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How To Form An Exercise Habit

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If you are looking to lose weight and improve your health, did you know the recommended amount of physical exercise is

Either
150 minutes of moderate exercise (brisk walking or cycling) and strength exercises at least 2 times a week.
Or
75 minutes of vigorous exercise (running, fitness classes etc) and again, at least 2 strength sessions a week

With both of these, you can break the amount down into bite size chunks, rather than do it in one sitting.  Do you do the recommended amount?  Getting into an exercise routine is never easy, but once you have mastered it, it becomes way of life, and you'll find it equally hard to break.  The benefits are huge - weight loss, reduces blood pressure, helps you feel happier, helps balance cholesterol, boosts your immune system, reduces your risk of heart and lung disease, and so on.  But how do you get yourself into a habit of exercising regularly?

Set a goal
You'll probably know this one, but its vital.  If you have a goal, it gives you something to aim for and focuses your attention on what you are aiming for.  It can be as imaginative as you like, but pick something you are going to enjoy.  There is no point choosing something based around running if you hate running.  Think out the box, let your imagination go.   Once you have decided what it is, put a time line to it and write both down, and stick them up somewhere you look every day.  (Mine is on the fridge, need I say anymore ;-) )

Plan
Now you have your goal, start to plan around it.  Put the date in your diary, and then break down 2 or 3 mini goals leading up to it, so you know you are on track, and also to help keep you motivated.  Once you have done these, the detailed planning can start.  Before each week starts, sit down and plan what you are going to do when.  If you are unsure what is enough and what is too much, ask someone who knows - a friend who has accomplished something similar, or pay someone to sit down with you and write you a clear plan and programme.  This is normally done by a coach or personal trainer (depending on what the goal is).

Write it down
Yup, we have already planned and written your goal down, but now you need to write down 1 or 2 things - training - write down what you accomplished each session.  This helps you see your progression, and also help to push you a little harder each session.  If you are looking to tone up, or lose a few pounds, the other thing you need to write down is everything you eat.  This is vital as it helps you stay on track, eat less junk, and control your portion sizes to what they should be.  If you like an app, try my fitness pal.  It's useful as works out how many calories you have eaten, and also what % is made up of protein, carbohydrates and fat, which is vital!

Buddy up
Find a friend who is wanting to work towards something similar, and train together regularly, or if you are too far away from each other, compare training notes and motivate each other along.  You are less likely to skip a session because you won't want to let your friend down.

Reward yourself
Some people find a reward helps.  Doesn't need to be something extravagant, but something along the lines of - an extra glass of wine at the weekend if I train 3 times a week, or a £1 in a pot every time you train to save up for anything you like, or buy a new pair of shoes to go with the jeans you have managed to work your butt off to fit into.

Variety
Doing the same thing day in and day out is boring for the brain and the body.  Your body needs to be challenged by new challenges, so keep your routine varied, with new exercises, changes in pace or new activities. Use it as a great opportunity to try something new, or find a new hobby.  I have had 2 lovely clients this year who set a goal of doing a triathlon, and now they have done 3!!!  So unfurl your wings, and let yourself soar, you never know what you might achieve