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A guide to make your workout routine a long term habit

We don’t know about you, but we wake up every morning with the best possible intentions for a healthy day - exercise, healthy food, positive mind and the motivation to complete your to-do list. But those plans are easily derailed by what we call life, and interruptions during the day means that we can’t quite fit these daily routines in. Whilst we might not be able to resolve your daily setbacks, we can help to make your workout routine a long-term habit, which means you can stay flexible and work around the interruptions.

1. Break your exercise journey into achievable goals

No one becomes an athlete overnight. An athlete is built on consistent training and progression to reach a goal. So, setting achievable targets will put you on the right path. Here are a few tips to help you break your exercise journey into achievable goals:

• goals don’t need to be about weight loss or about working out every single day; they can be about benefiting your mental health, giving your day structure and increasing your mobility (and maybe fixing an injury).

• start your journey small and work up to a bigger plan later. Don’t feel under pressure to know your ultimate goal; you might work it out during your journey or never at all! Making a long-term habit involves going with flow and making it work around you.

• plan your goals using the SMART structure, which allows you to uncover useful details: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timeline ie. I want to run 5km without stopping in 3 months’ time.

2. A positive mindset

Look at transforming your workout routine into a long-term habit as a journey. And throughout the journey, remember to listen to your body and mind. Trust that you will achieve what you’ve set out to do in the end. A positive mind frame will get you halfway to your goal.

Remember that journeys don’t necessarily go to plan and that it can be difficult to keep a positive mindset all the time. If you’re having a low day or are lacking in motivation, accept it and go with it; take a day off if you need and remember that tomorrow is another day. Or, if you still want to do something, try a slower paced exercise like yoga or walking.

Keeping your exercise routine attached to positive thought patterns is essential in continuing the journey and making it a long-term habit.

3. Take the pressure off and be realistic

Whether you prefer exercising at home with a video, in the park with a friend, with a personal trainer, or in the gym, you must work within your boundaries. There is no point in pushing yourself so much that you start hating it, or you suffer an injury, or you become bored.

If an exercise is too difficult, try your best but don’t worry if you can’t achieve it. By starting small (short runs, lighter weights, slower yoga) and building slowly, you will achieve it in the end. You must work within your limits however you should challenge yourself when you think it’s right to.

4. Choose your exercise according to what you enjoy

It’s simple: if you don’t enjoy an exercise, don’t do it. As mentioned before, thinking negatively about your workout will only lead to a lack of motivation and won’t bring you near to your goals.

You don’t have to be subscribed to a gym to workout. There are different workouts for everyone:

• If you enjoy working out with other people, why not try dance classes (like hip hop, ballroom to ballet), team sports or spinning

• If you enjoy being outside, take up cycling, surfing, parkour, or sea swimming

• If you enjoy being on your own, try pole dancing, boxing, trampolining or bouldering

• If you don’t really know, why not try subscribing to a YouTube channel and trying your hand at certain exercises in the comfort of your own home, as well as checking out some of the experts at work. You’ll quickly work out what’s for you (and what’s not!).

5. Create a holistic health routine

Working out is great but without fitting it into a healthy life routine, you might not reach the goals you’re aiming for.

Juggling a healthy diet, mental health, sleep and an exercise regime can be tricky, but it is key to creating a routine that becomes a life-long habit. It also helps maintain a strong immune system. Here are our tips to make your holistic health routine maintainable:

• Food: Do not create rules for yourself or go on an endless diet (unless a medical professional has advised so). Eat regular, balanced meals that satisfy your nutrient and mineral necessities together with your cravings. You should eat intuitively; neither gorging on ‘unhealthy’ foods like chocolate, sweets and processed foods, nor scrapping them entirely. Balance is your goal.

• Mental health: While everyone is different, practicing mindfulness, taking time out when you need it, sleeping well, practicing self-care, positive affirmations are just a few ways that you can maintain your mental health.

• Sleep: A good night’s sleep can do wonders, and a bad night’s sleep can be very negative on your day ahead. Make sure that you create a regular routine around sleep to give yourself a good chance of sleeping well: go to bed at the same time, switch off digital devices an hour before bed, slow your breathing and practice meditation before bed, listen to calming music.

6. Measuring success on your exercise journey

Put away your scales and your measuring tape. Success is about how you feel, not what you look like. As we’ve said, you will encounter peaks and troughs during your journey, so it’s important to measure ‘success’ with that in mind, and to be flexible. Here are a few questions to consider if you are struggling:

• Have you had a difficult week of motivation? Head over to number 2 – ‘a positive mindset’ – and number 3 – ‘take the pressure off an be realistic’ – remind yourself of how to stay optimistic and be kind to yourself.

• Are you bored of your routine? Remember to vary your exercises and stick to the ones you like. Head to number 4, ‘choose your exercise according to what you enjoy’.

• Are you aiming too high or too far? Back up to number 1 – ‘break your exercise journey into achievable goals’ – and remind yourself that your goals should be small and realistic. There’s no point in running before you can walk.