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How To Stay in Fitness Forever: 25 Tips To Keep Moving Forward When Life Gets in The Way

    Abdulaziz Sobh
    By Abdulaziz Sobh
    Categories: Beauty & Fitness, Health

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    Can you keep exercising when your motivation slips, the weather gets worse or your schedule becomes overwhelming? Expert and Guardian readers give their best advice

    When it comes to exercise, we think how to "get" in shape. But often, starting is not the problem. "The big problem is keeping it," says Falko Sniehotta, a professor of health and behavioral psychology at the University of Newcastle. The official guidelines of the United Kingdom say that adults should do strengthening exercises, as well as 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, every week. According to the Health Survey for England in 2016, 34% of men and 42% of women are not achieving aerobic exercise goals, and even more (69% and 77% respectively) are not doing enough strengthening activity. A report by the World Health Organization found last week that people in the UK were among the least active in the world, with 32% of men and 40% of women reporting inactivity. Meanwhile, obesity is adding to long-term chronic diseases cited in Public Health England's analysis, which shows that women in the United Kingdom are dying earlier than in most EU countries.

    We all know that we should be doing more, but how do we keep moving when we lose motivation, the weather gets worse or life gets in the way? Try these 25 tips from Guardian experts and readers to continue.

    1 resolve why not just train
    Our reasons to start exercising are key to keeping up, says Michelle Segar, director of the University of Michigan Sports, Health and Activities Policy and Research Center. Too often, "society promotes exercise and fitness by engaging in short-term motivation, guilt, and shame." There is some evidence, she says, that younger people will go to the gym more if their motives are based on appearance, but beyond 20 years of age, that does not motivate much. Neither help the vague or future objectives ("I want to get in shape, I want to lose weight"). Segar, the author of No Sweat: How the simple science of motivation can give you a lifetime of exercise, says we will be more successful if we focus on immediate positive feelings, such as stress reduction, increased energy, and friends. "The only way we're going to prioritize time for exercise is if it's going to offer some kind of benefit that is truly compelling and valuable to our daily lives," he says.

    2 Go down to a slow start
    The danger of the typical approach to New Year's resolutions for physical fitness, says personal trainer Matt Roberts, is that people "throw themselves and do everything: change their diet, start exercising, stop drinking and smoke and in A couple of weeks ago he lost his motivation or got too tired. If you have not been in shape, it will take time. "He likes the trend towards high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and recommends that people include some," but do it all the days will be too intense for most people. " Do it once (or twice, at most) a week, combined with slow jogs, swimming, and fast walks plus two or three days of rest, at least during the first month. "That will give someone the opportunity to have recovery sessions along with high-intensity workouts."

    3 You do not have to love it
    It is useful not to try to do things you do not like, says Segar, who advises thinking about the types of roller skating activities? Ride the bicycle? You liked it when you were a child. But do not feel that you really should enjoy the exercise. "Many people who follow the exercise say: 'I feel better when I do it.'" However, there are elements that are likely to be pleasing, such as the physical response of your body and the feeling of getting stronger, and the pleasure that comes with dominating a sport.

    "For many people, the obvious options are not necessarily the ones they would enjoy," says Sniehotta, who is also director of the policy research unit of the National Institute for Health Research in behavioral sciences, "so they should look outside. of them". They can be different sports or simple things, like sharing activities with other people. "

    4 Be kind to yourself
    Individual motivation, or the lack of it, is only one part of the larger image. Money, parenting demands or even where you live can be obstacles, says Sniehotta. Fatigue, depression, work stress or sick family members can have an impact on physical activity. "If there is a lot of support around you, it will be easier for you to maintain physical activity," he says. "If you live in certain parts of the country, you may feel more comfortable doing outdoor physical activities than others. The conclusion that people who do not do enough physical activity simply lack motivation is problematic."

    Segar suggests being realistic. "Omit the idea of going to the gym five days a week, be really analytical about work and family needs at the beginning, because if you set yourself up with goals that are too big, you will fail and you will feel like a failure. I always ask my clients to reflect on what worked and what did not work Maybe it worked on a walk during lunch it worked, but I did not have the energy after work to do it. "

    5 Do not trust in willpower
    "If you need the willpower to do something, you really do not want to do it," says Segar. Instead, think about the exercise "in terms of why we do it and what we want to get out of physical activity." How can I benefit today? How do I feel when I move? How do I feel after moving?

    6 Find a purpose
    Anything that allows you to exercise while you meet other goals will help you, says Sniehotta. "It gives you more satisfaction, and the costs of not doing so are higher." For example, walking or cycling to work, or making friends when joining a sports club, or running with a friend. "Or the goal is to spend more time on the field, and running helps you do it."

    Try to combine physical activity with something else. "For example, in my workplace, I do not use the elevator and I try to reduce email, so when possible, I address people," says Sniehotta. "In the course of the day, on the way to work, I move a lot in the building and I really get about 15,000 steps, try to make the physical activity hit as many significant objectives as you can."

    7 Make it a habit
    When you start running, it can be exhausting to get out of the door, where are your shoes? Your water bottle? What route are you going to take? After a while, says Sniehottta, "there are no longer costs associated with the activity." Doing physical activity regularly and planning it "helps make it sustainable behavior". Lost sessions no.

    8 Plan and prioritize
    What happens if you do not have time to exercise? For many people, working in two jobs or with extensive care responsibilities, this can certainly be true, but is it genuinely true for you? It could be a matter of priorities, says Sniehotta. He recommends planning: "The first one is 'action planning', where you plan where, when and how you are going to do it, and try to continue with that." The second type is 'coping planning': "anticipating things that can get in the way and start a plan to get motivated again". Segar adds: "Most people do not give themselves permission to prioritize self-care behaviors like exercise."

    9 Keep it short and sharp
    A workout does not have to take an hour, says Roberts. "A well-structured 15-minute workout can be really effective if you're really pressed for time." As for the regular and longer sessions, he says: "You tell yourself that you are going to make time and change your schedule accordingly."

    10 If it does not work, change it
    It rains for a week, you do not run once and then you feel guilty. "It's a combination of emotion and lack of confidence that leads us to the point where, if people fail sometimes, they think it's a failure of the whole project," says Sniehotta. Remember that it is possible to resume the course.

    If the previous exercise regimens have not worked, do not give up or try them again, just try something else, he says. "We tend to think that if you can not lose weight, you blame yourself, but if I could change that to: 'This method does not work for me, let's try something different', there is a possibility that it would be better for you and avoid having to blame yourself, which is not useful. "

    11 Add resistance and balance training as you get older
    "We started losing muscle mass around the age of 30," says Hollie Grant, Pilates personal training inPilatesr and owner of PilatesPT. Resistance training (using body weight, such as push-ups, or equipment, such as resistance bands) is important, she says: "It will help maintain muscle mass or at least slow down the loss." There must also be some type of aerobic exercise, and we would also recommend that people start adding balance challenges because our balance is affected as we get older. "

    12 Up the ante
    "If you run 5k races and you do not know if you should push faster or go further, rate your effort from one to 10," says Grant. "When you see those numbers decrease, it's when you start to work a little faster." Roberts says that with regular exercise, you should see progress for a period of two weeks and force yourself if you feel it is getting easier. "You are looking for a change in your speed or endurance or strength."

    13 Exercise from home
    If you have caring responsibilities, Roberts says you can do a lot in a small area of your home. "In a living room, it's easy to do a routine where you can alternate between doing a leg exercise and an arm exercise," he says. "It's called Peripheral Heart Action training." When doing six or eight exercises, this effect of going between the upper and lower parts of the body produces a rather strong metabolism elevation and cardiovascular exercises. "Test the squats, the half-bends, the thrusts, triceps falls and buttock raises. "You are raising your heart rate, working your muscles and doing a good general workout." They do not take more than 15-20 minutes and only require a chair for the triceps falls, although the weights can also be useful.

    14 Take your breath away
    We are often told that housework and gardening can contribute to our weekly exercise goals, but is it that simple? "The measure is actually that you're getting warmer in general, out of breath, and you're working on a level where, if you have a conversation with someone while you're doing it, you're huffing a little," says Roberts. "With gardening, you would have to do heavier gardening, dig, not just weed, if you walk the dog, you can turn it into a real exercise session: run with the dog or find a route that includes some hills."

    15 Be sensible about the disease
    Joslyn Thompson Rule, a personal trainer, says: "The general rule is that if you are above the neck, a headache or a cold, being aware of how you feel, you are usually fine to do some kind of exercise. It's under the neck if you have trouble breathing, rest.The key is to be sensible.If you were planning to do a high-intensity workout, you would slow down, but sometimes just moving can make you feel better. "After recovering from an Illness, he says, trusts your instincts. "You do not want to go directly to training four times a week, you might want to do the same number of sessions but make them shorter, or do less."

    16 Seek advice after the injury
    Clearly, how fast you start exercising again depends on the type of injury and you should consult your doctor. Psychologically, however, Thompson Rule says: "Even when we are doing everything as we should, there are still falls along the way, it is not going to be a linear progression of improvement."

    17 Take it slowly after pregnancy
    Again, says Thompson Rule, listen to your body and your doctor's advice at your six-week postnatal check-up. After a cesarean section, exercising again will be slower, while back injuries related to pregnancy and problems with the abdominal muscles affect how quickly you can return to training and may require physical therapy. "Once you're walking and you have a little more energy, depending on where you were before (some women never trained before pregnancy), starting a regimen after a baby is something you should undertake," says Thompson Rule. "Be patient." I receive more emails from women who ask when they will have a flat stomach again. "Relax, take care of yourself, and take care of your baby." When you feel a little more energetic, slowly return to your routine. "She recommends starting with "very basic things like walking and carrying your baby [in a sling]".

    18 Technology can help
    For goal-oriented people, says Grant, it may be useful to monitor progress closely, but "allow some flexibility in your goals." You may have had a stressful day at work, go for a run and do not do it as fast and then think: 'I will not bother anymore' ". However, "it can start to be a bit addictive, and then you do not listen to your body and run more risk of suffering an injury."

    19 Winter is not an excuse
    "Winter is not necessarily a time to hibernate," says Thompson Rule. Be decisive, put your shoes next to the door and try not to think about the cold / drizzle/gray. "It's the same with going to the gym, it's that voice in our head that makes us feel like it's a nuisance, but once you're there, you think, 'Why was I putting it off for so long?'"


    20 Keep the size of a bite
    Alex Tomlin

    I tried and failed a few times to establish a consistent race routine, but that was because I tried too hard. The fact that he can run for an hour does not mean he should do it. Running two or three times a week for 20-30 minutes each time greatly improved my physical condition and made it easier to fit.

    21 Reward
    Neil Richardson

    I keep a large bag of dwarf gems in my car to motivate myself to get to the gym, allowing me a handful before training. Sometimes I throw some wine gums for the element of surprise.

    22 Call in the reinforcements
    Niall O'Brien

    I tapped on the vast network of fitness podcasts and online communities. On days when I lacked unity, I listened to a podcast of exercises, and by the time I got home, I was absolutely determined to make the right decisions. In fact, I would be excited. Your brain responds very well to repetition and reinforcement, so once you have made the initial difficult change, it becomes much easier over time.

    23 Use visual motivation
    King Siobhan

    I have kept a "star list" on my calendar for the past two years, after three years of being chronically incapacitated. I put a gold star on the days I exercise, and it is a good visual motivator for when I feel like a slug. I run, I use our cross trainer at home and I do a ski training program from an application. My improved core strength has helped my career and the ability to carry my disabled child when necessary.

    24 Keep alarms out of reach
    Sally Crowe

    If, like me, you have to get up early to exercise or it just does not happen, keep the alarm clock away from your bed and next to your computer. Once you've gotten up to shut it down, it's better to continue!

    25 Follow the four-day rule
    Joanne Chalmers

    I have a simple rule that could apply to any physical activity: I do not allow more than four days to elapse between sessions. So, if I know that I have a couple of busy days to come, I make sure to run before them, so I have "accumulated" my four days. With the exception of illnesses, injuries or family emergencies, I have adhered to this rule for 10 years.