Summer can be one of the most enjoyable seasons of the year. There's so much to do, from spending time with the kids and meeting up with relatives, to catching up on reading and getting outside to enjoy nature. It's no wonder regular routines get disrupted and habits start to crumble. By summer's end, the idea of starting your fitness routine over from scratch can be daunting.
According to Body and Health Canada, only 15 percent of Canadians get enough regular exercise, and 65 percent aren't physically active enough to maintain cardiovascular health. How can you get back into a regular routine and make fitness a priority? Here are some suggestions:
Set your intention to start a fitness routine and tell somebody. An accountability buddy can text you twenty minutes before your normal morning alarm to help you out of bed for a quick stretch and workout before the day begins. Set a goal to get up and do it three days in a row. Then try to stretch that to five days in a row. When you miss a day, start over and try to match your previous record. What kind of exercise you're doing at first is less important than the fact that you're forming a habit of setting aside time for fitness.
Find a Trigger
The easiest way to start a habit is to piggy-back it onto a habit you already have. Pick something you do every day, like brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, or letting the dog out, and squeeze 10 minutes of exercise in before moving on to the rest of your day.
It's tempting to sign up for a gym membership and set massive goals for your first week of resuming exercise, but sometimes this means setting yourself up to fail. Plan on a small commitment that will be easy for you to meet and make achieving your goal the priority. This could be a five-minute walk around the block or 10 leg lifts. The fact that you are now doing something instead of nothing is the first step in forming healthy workout habits.
Deciding you're going to run a mile every morning or do 50 sit-ups before lunch when you don't like running or sit-ups could mean you defeat yourself before you even start. Find a fitness regimen that you actually enjoy and doing it won't seem like such a chore. This might mean thinking outside the box and taking up fencing or finding a studio that offers ballet/Pilates fusion workouts.
According to Canadian Living, working out with a partner significantly increases chances of creating a solid routine. You can motivate each other to stay on track, but avoid anything that fosters competition unless your relationship is strong enough to handle it. Great partner workouts include yoga, hiking, swimming and spin cycling.
Two or three 10-minute workouts can be easier to achieve than a single 20-30 minute one. Start off with a single 10-minute spot a day, then find a time when you can add a second. The start of the day and right before lunch can be ideal for a quick workout, and you can even find exercise routines that can be done at your desk if you get stuck working through lunch.
"Find exercise routines that can be done at your desk."
According to My Health Alberta, many people fail to stay with their fitness plan because they feel embarrassed about their current fitness level, and running, jogging or working out in a gym makes them feel self-conscious. Ways to overcome these hurdles include investing in an exercise bike or stair-stepper so you can work out at home, heading to the mall for a half-hour of speed-walking, or taking your dog for a run in the mornings before streets get crowded.
Set little milestones for yourself to reach, like the first time you work out five days in a row or the first month that you manage to get 10 cumulative hours of exercise in. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week as recommended by the Canadian Government. Reward yourself in a small way, such as a coffee date with a friend or buying something special you've been saving for. Celebrating your "win" feels good and makes you want to "win" again.
Be Actively Active
Once you start thinking about adding fitness to your day, you can find new ways to add physical activity even during mundane moments. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, set your exercise bike in front of the TV before turning on your favourite show or start joining your kids for a swim at the local pool instead of sitting on the sidelines with a book.
Don't beat yourself up if you miss a day. Just keep going. Reset your "days in a row" counter and start over. When you look back at your progress over the course of a year, a missed day here and there won't seem so big among all the days you did get up and moving.
Reap the Benefits
Once you've created a solid habit of working out, you can build on the foundation to push yourself harder and achieve more progress. Ten minutes a day can become 20, then 30; your exercises can go from simple and easy to complex and challenging, and before you know it you'll have settled into your new routine of fitness and health – just in time for the holidays!