We get it – maintaining a consistent fitness routine can be tough. A busy schedule at work, illness, family issues, travel, and life in general can easily derail your best intentions to stick to your workout schedule. But here’s the thing – as challenging as maintaining your fitness can be, it’s still easier than having to rebuild it from scratch! Never mind the associated guilt that comes from letting yourself down, the lack of energy that comes from not moving, or the discomfort of putting on a few extra pounds! So we’ve compiled the best research-backed tips that you can implement immediately to help you stay on track.
Find a buddy
Studies consistently show that if you have a buddy to exercise with, you are much more likely to go regularly. I personally have two workout partners, which works out great! On rare occasions when one of us can’t make it, there are still two of us left who can, and when I’m feeling a bit lazy, I have two people to motivate me through it. Plus when we’re at the gym, I two buddies to entertain me and I end up having way more fun than I would have on my own! Through trial and error I have found that the key to a good workout buddy is to find one that has a similar level of fitness and dedication as you have.
Do less than you can
This may seem counterintuitive, but setting the bar too high and creating too long or challenging of a routine can actually work against you. If working out for 45 minutes or an hour feels onerous then simply commit to doing less or it will feel like a chore rather than something you look forward to. If you are feeling good or find you have extra energy once you’ve gotten through your workout, you can always do more!
Start by simply showing up
On days you are really unmotivated promise yourself that you’ll at least show up. This mental trick works really well because often the hardest part is just convincing yourself to go! Usually, once you’re there (whether it’s at the gym or outside on the street / field) you will generally feel ready for more because you’ll already have put in the effort to get there – and your surroundings will do the rest!
Make it as convenient as possible
Research has shown that the proximity of where you workout to your home is the key to more frequent exercise. In fact, too far of a distance (over 5.5 km) can actually hinder you from working out. So don’t sign up for the fancy gym if it means you have to drive half an hour to get there; instead find a local gym or ball league, invest in some home workout equipment, or find a neighbourhood buddy you can run or walk with.
Schedule your workout the right way
Try and schedule your workout at the same (less busy) time each day and block it off in your calendar like you would any other meeting or appointment. This way it won’t be easily pushed aside by other ‘more urgent’ things. First thing in the morning, during lunch hour, or right after work seem to be good time slots for most people.
Always have a backup plan
Anticipate situations that might derail your workout plans and have alternative plans in place. I recommend you use the ‘If…then’ formula. For example, know ahead of time that IF it is cold and wet outside when you want to jog, THEN you will go to the gym instead, or IF your workout buddy cancels on you, THEN you will take an exercise class instead.
Give yourself some leeway but set your bare minimum
The easiest way to keep a habit going is to simply not break it in the first place. Taking too much time off makes it much harder to find the motivation to start up again. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself a bit of slack during really busy or challenging times – but commit to maintaining the bare minimum that you set for yourself (whether that is one day a week or three). Personally, when I started working out, I promised myself that I would always exercise at least three times a week (my norm is six), and I have had no problem sticking to that for the past twenty years.
Create and display prompts
Prompts are signals or cues that serve as reminders to initiate a behaviour or action, and are incredibly helpful when trying to build or maintain a habit. Prompts can be as simple as setting an alert on your calendar or cell phone when it’s time to exercise or laying out your workout clothes in front of the door where you can see them. Just make sure these prompts are obvious enough that you can’t easily (dis)miss them.
Track your progress
Tracking the number of times you worked out per week and seeing black X’s on your calendar can give you a great sense of accomplishment. Seeing improvements you’ve made, such as amount of weight lifted, number of miles run, or even inches that you’ve shed, can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster. Track the indicator that is the most meaningful and motivating to you.
We would love to know what tips you use to ensure you stick to your current routine and stay motivated? Comment below!