I don’t think there is any real need to further argue the necessity that we should all try to move more. The evidence has been out there for quite some time and most of us should be in agreement that exercise is good for us with our understanding of the multiple levels upon it’s benefits continuing to unfold the more we learn about our bodies. I think the question should more be addressed towards the sustainability of movement and exercise within our lives. An over-riding problem that I see for so many people in modern life is trying to find the time to consistently and regularly exercise in order to maintain their health. I always try to emphasise to my patients that the decision to regularly engage within exercise is a lifestyle choice and in order for people to be able to embrace this as a lifestyle choice, the question of “Sustainability” becomes extremely important. There are several factors that determine whether we are able to embrace exercise sustainably within our lives. These various factors are listed below:
Your exercise choices need to be enjoyable. This is predominently the most important factor when deciding to start to integrate exercise within your weekly routine. Having worked within the fitness industry for over 20 years, one of the most common reasons why I see people being inconsistent with exercise is due to their lack of real enjoyment for their specific sporting or fitness choices. Over the years, through many conversations with people about physical activity, a common theme that I repetitively encounter is that of people feeling guilty because they know that they should be regularly exercising but cannot get themselves to move because their chosen form of exercise feels more like a menial chore than something to be enjoyed! When trying to make a choice about what form of physical activity to engage within, it is important to have a think about the types of things that personally motivate you and provide you with enjoyment; Are you the type of person who likes to challenge themselves? Are you the type of person who needs a set physical goal in order to motivate yourself to get going?If that is the case, consider entering yourself for an event to participate in, such as a local 5km charity run or in an extreme case, consider participating within a Tough Mudder event. Do you prefer to learn a physical skill such as a martial art or body calisthenics? Want to learn how to hold a handstand for 1 minute or perform a beautiful martial arts form with the grace, poise and balance of Bruce Lee. In any major town or city, our ability to learn these skills from experts and specialist schools are greater now than they have ever been. There are also some amazing online platforms from which you can initially learn some of the fundamentals movements before taking the plunge to see a local expert or specialist academy. Do you like getting outdoors as it really helps to provide you with a mental break from the rigors of life? Maybe going for walks or runs in a park or in the countryside is just the ticket needed for you to clear your mind, get the blood pumping and mentally recharge from a hectic week. Do you hate the gym environment? Please understand that if you want to get fit, strong and mobile, there are a variety of ways in which you can achieve that goal. These options include going to a local fitness class, learning a home exercise program from an expert such as a personal trainer or joining a local sports group (i.e. local 5-a side football group). Or are you simply not confident in trying to start the process of exercising? Maybe your first step should be about having a chat with your friends who regularly exercise and their experiences about how they felt when they first started. Learning and understanding that there are other people who have gone through the same experiences regarding your initial insecurities and apprehension will give you a little more confidence that what you are feeling is completely normal. Get ideas through the experiences of your friends and family regarding the process of how they got themselves going and what they did to keep their motivation to stay on the exercise wagon!
Your exercise choices need to be time convenient. With the chaos of modern living, our time is constantly torn between increased working hours, time with our families and the demands to maintain a clean, orderly household. Success with adding an exercise routine on top of those current demands certainly comes down to the need to time manage our commitments to keep it going. Although, it is important to understand that the need to effectively manage those time commitments doesn’t preclude you from being able to participate within a chosen exercise modality. All it may require you to do, is start to be clever with how you manage the development of your sport or activity, so that you can maintain an upward trajectory in terms of your progression. For example, at the clinic, we have many patients who enjoy playing 5-a-side football on a weekly basis, although their ability to commit to playing football more than once per week is limited. With these patients, our therapists and trainers provide simple, effective periodised home based training programs involving a combination of solo football drills, running, progressive strength exercises and joint mobilisations with the purpose of helping to further progress their cardiovascular fitness, joint and muscular strength, joint mobility and balance in order to keeping them physically prepared ahead the rigors of their weekly 5-a-side game. We find that providing our clients with specific guidance, fitness targets and sport relevant drills helps to maintain their motivation to keep themselves fully functional and well prepared in order to enable them to both regularly participate and consistently make gradual improvements within their chosen physical activity.
Your exercise choices need to be adaptable to your life circumstances. Alongside the chaos of modern living comes a level of unpredictability and uncertainty to our weekly routines. Work deadlines, a poor nights sleep, unexpected family commitments and breakdowns to the mechanical, electrical cogs of our homes can all present barriers to being able to maintain consistency with our exercise schedules. The need to develop some flexibility to our exercise routines around what is happening within our personal circumstances can ensure that we are able to maintain a certain level of consistency and also help us to stay on track with our physical development goals. The knowledge in how to modify your training when you have had a poor nights sleep the evening before or if you are severely time restricted for a several weeks due to a work deadline becomes incredibly valuable and extremely important. At the Evolution Rehab clinic, we equipe our clients with the suggestions, knowledge and education to know how to fluidly adapt their training regimes around a busy schedule with a baseline understanding that sometimes when life gets a little too busy, alongside a little clever exercise programming, it is the determination to find a bit of time to just maintain a particular level of physical conditioning which will enable them to continue with all “Guns Blazing” once their work and life circumstances allows them to further progress their physical goals.
Your exercise choices need to be energy sustainable. Any individual may have the best intentions of starting an exercise regime. Throwing a combination of a lot of time, money and effort into an exercise process, it is understandable that the individual may have an expectation for a very quick turnaround in order to gain a result! In many cases, their efforts can turnaround some dramatic and positive changes in the physical appearance of their body within a short timespan. Although, having made such positive progress with their initial exercise goals, the ability to maintain the same high levels of time, financial and emotional commitment may not be very realistic within a medium or long term timeframe. Throughout my years within the fitness industry, I have seen many people given extremely regimented diet and exercise protocols at the start of a fitness drive with a personal trainer. After the initial surge of physical activity to kickstart their fitness regime and physical goals, there have been many times where I have seen their physical activity pursuits decline back to sedentary levels within a period of around twelve to eighteen months after starting. An extremely common reason for this is due to an inability to continue with the same high levels of financial and emotional commitment as they did during the initial periods of their fitness regime. The ability of these individuals to consistently adhere to the strict regimen of hard physical training and dietary restriction can be both financially and emotionally draining! In many ways, you could say that they suffer from a form of emotional and financial “Burnout!” In order to prevent this from happening, is it important to set yourself consistent and realistic exercise targets that you feel you can achieve for a sustained period of time. I would always recommend for people to start conservatively and positively build from there. One of the phrases that I consistently repeat to my patients is,”Nothing Builds Success Like Success!” Start with a simple, achievable plan and build upon the confidence that you gain from consistent success with your initial fitness goals. This doesn’t mean that you should never undertake periods of training whereby both the intensity and volume of exercise that you undergo increases significantly. These periods can be really useful to help keep you motivated and also help you to push your training to another level! But it is important to realise that any accelerated kickstart that you may put into your training can only last for a certain period of time and that everyone only has the available energy reserves to maintain this for a short period of time. Once the accelerated kickstart has passed, you need to have a practical, realistic and achievable training schedule to return to, in order to keep your fitness goals within a long term plan as opposed to a “Flash in the pan!”
Do you struggle with motivation? At the start of any sort of personal resolution, it is easy to keep going with the initial enthusiasm and energy of beginning something new! But how do you stay on the exercise wagon when the spark of enthusiasm starts to wane or when the journey on the exercise wagon starts to feel more travelled? With a little thought and understanding of the things in life that keep you motivated, laying an initial foundation will go a long way to keeping you on track with your fitness goals. Are you the type of person who needs some sort of end goal or reward to focus upon in order to keep you going? For some people, having some sort of end reward to focus upon can keep them going when things get a little tough. Whether it is the new dress that you will be able to fit into or the holiday that you promise to treat yourself to once you have succeeded with your current exercise goal. Try putting up a little visual reminder in your study or bedroom to help keep you motivated and on track with your promised reward. Are you the competitive type? Maybe organising a challenge with a friend or a group of friends is the spark that will drive you to keep going when things get a little tough. Do you need the encouragement of someone else in order to keep going? Would it be better to a get friend involved with your exercise resolutions? Not only can training with a friend be a source of positive motivation to keep you moving but they can also provide you with someone to talk to when things may get a little bumpy. One of the most positive things that I see within the CrossFit community is the blend of how they manage to make you competitive within yourself to achieve certain fitness goals alongside a really positive community which serves as a great source of social support and motivation to keep you going.
It is definitely worthwhile spending a little time going through the various factors which may influence as to whether your decision to exercise will have any sort of longevity to it. Getting to the bottom of what you like, dislike, how to keep yourself motivated and making your exercise plans pragmatic to fit around the demands of life will definitely give you a better chance to keep it going in the long run. Ultimately, the most important thing is that you keep a smile on your face, keep it fun and always have a little perspective upon the fact that your efforts of fitting exercise into your life is about making a positive change for the better.