How to establish a regular exercise habit

How to establish a regular exercise habit

Vive Co-Founder, Guy Leech, gives his top seven tips on how to make regular exercise a habit that you actually stick to – for good.

1. Don’t get ‘paralysis by analysis’

For me exercising every day is like brushing my teeth. I just do it as part of my day. It’s part of my routine. It’s a non-negotiable that I don’t even have to ask myself whether I’m doing. It’s just a given that I will somehow, no matter what, find time in my day for a workout.

Sometimes if you think too hard about ‘am I going to exercise today?’ it just never happens. Don’t overthink it. Just put your sneakers on and get out the door!

There’s another advantage to making exercise non-negotiable. Friends and family members learn that it’s part of your identity, and give up saying things like, ‘Why don’t you just take it easy today?’ Nup, not happening.

2. Commit to another person.

For a lot of us, the social aspect of exercise is very important. Just like my paddling group that I coach everyday, it becomes as much a social club as a place to exercise.

If you promise your best mate that you’re going to be at that 6am pilates class or on that morning jog with them, you’re infinitely less likely to press the snooze button when it’s time to get going!

3. Exercise first thing in the morning.

Any number of things can sabotage your exercise routine in a day. So my advice is, go early. Set the alarm a bit earlier if you need to and get up and just do it, while the rest of your household is still sleeping.

You will have more energy during the day as a result and sleep better at night. It’s a no-brainer!

Of course, for some single parents and shift workers, this isn’t always possible, in which case whatever space you can find in your day – better late than never.

4. Do a variety of activities you enjoy.

For me this is the key to maintaining exercise as a priority in my life. Not only will your mind be fresher for the constant change up, but your body will see the improvement at a quicker rate.

Having a variety of activities — reformer pilates, weight lifting, walking, running, tennis, cycling, surfing — will ensure that you can do something regardless of the weather or time of day.

5. Exercise even when you’re ‘too tired’.

On days when you’re tired, chances are, you’ll feel better after exercising.

Exercise energises us!

There have been plenty of times that I haven’t felt like having a workout and once I have started it has been one of those memorable workouts.

And don’t stress if you feel like you need to have a coffee before a workout – it’s a proven performance enhancer and there’s now plenty of evidence that it has a range of health benefits too. Just don’t have it too close to bedtime if it keeps you awake at night.

6. Log your activity

Keep a log of the health indicators or metrics that are important to you. It could be how many minutes you exercise each day, how many steps you walked, how far you ran or cycled, what you weigh, what your heart rate is.

My whole sporting career revolved around having a journal and it helped me improve and maintain motivation. These days with wearables, keeping a log of your every health metric has become so easy – you can even include your sleep!

7. Be aware of all the indicators of progress

It’s great when your clothes fit better and you can lift heavier weights or work out longer without getting exhausted.

But there are many more indicators that show you’re heading in the right direction. These include:

  • Getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Thinking more clearly.
  • Having more energy.
  • Realising your muscles aren’t screaming after you’ve helped a friend move furniture.
  • Seeing your resting heart rate drop over time.
  • Hearing your doctor congratulate you on improved cholesterolblood pressure, bone density, triglycerides, and blood markers.

Take notice of your body and mind and keep doing the things that work for you. Ultimately, your health is the one project that you can never overinvest in. Every minute you spend on it you’ll get back in quality and quantity of life.