Starting a new exercise habit can be so tough. I mean, you KNOW it’s good for you. you WANT to be that person. You might have even gone out and bought new workout gear to get you motivated! But then it doesn’t happen… Or you start off well, but it just doesn’t last.
This is something I coach many people through. It IS tough. But I find that one or a combination of some of these tips work for most.
My top 8 tips for getting started
1. Stop waiting to feel motivated
Motivation doesn’t come first. Action comes first. Consistency with these actions comes second. And motivation might come later (but not always!)
2. Start small
This is often where I start someone who hasn’t exercised for a long time (or never) and is really struggling to get started. Ask yourself ‘What is the SMALLEST amount of movement that I could do?’ Getting out of bed and doing 10 squats? Walking to the letterbox and back? You want it to be such a tiny amount that it would be RIDICULOUS for you NOT to do it.
Then, you need to treat it like you’re doing a whole workout. Put your gear on, grab your water bottle and do your tiny thing.
3. ‘Just put your shoes on’
This is one of my faves. Our brains are VERY good at convincing us that we shouldn’t exercise; that it’s too cold, we’re not feeling 100%, we’re just not up to it… But if we ignore this for a second and just commit to getting our workout gear and shoes on, the rest of the steps often follow (literally and figuratively!)
4. Try stacking your habits
Think about your day and pick something that is consistently already a part of your routine. Now try ‘piggybacking’ an exercise habit onto this already consistent habit. You could try doing a walk around the block before you check the mail. Or try a short 10min circuit while the kettle is boiling in the morning.
5. Cue yourself
New habits are much more likely to be successful if you have obvious cues to trigger the behaviour. You could try a yoga mat rolled out next to your bed, or set the exercise bike up in front of the TV for a while.
6. Plan ahead
I know it’s boring but, just like meals, planning ahead of time the exercise you will do and when you will do it will increase your chances of success significantly. Make sure it’s written somewhere you can refer to easily and don’t be afraid to write even your TINY exercises into your plan.
7. Be Accountable
Whether it’s a class you’ve booked into / are paying for, a personal trainer who literally tells you what to do, or a friend your are meeting for a walk – accountability is the ONLY way some people can see themselves maintaining an exercise habit. If this is you, there’s nothing wrong with that! Just know it about yourself and plan accordingly!
8. Pace yourself
Just remember, you’re playing the long game. If you’re an ‘all or nothing’ type of person, you will have likely fallen into this trap before. Going from doing nothing to declaring that you will start every day with a 5km run followed by yoga and a green smoothie. I would always recommend starting with LESS than you want to achieve and getting consistent first.
And remember, if you have any specific injuries, pain or medical conditions that are restricting your ability or confidence to move your body, then get some professional help!