Your trainers are sitting by the door, ready for your early morning run... only for the snooze button to tempt you to a few extra minutes of sleep instead. Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone.
Even when we say we want to exercise, many of us still put it off. We don’t have enough time. We’re too tired. We’re too unfit! We have knee pain. We don’t have the right kit. Joining a gym or sports club can be expensive, and sometimes, we just don’t enjoy exercise that much.
If we’re active for just 30 minutes a day, we’ll lay the groundwork for a healthier and happier life. Regular exercise is important for mind, body and soul, helping to keep us fit, maintain our mental health, and sleep better, amongst many other benefits. It can also be a brilliant way to socialise, have fun and feel your best.But we all know it’s not as easy as we hope. So, what’s stopping us from getting active?
Why is sticking to a routine easier for some people than others? And could our habits help bridge the gap between our intentions and our behaviours?
Here are five traits of people who exercise regularly (feel free to steal!):
1.Fuel up with healthy eating
People who are active tend to choose other healthy habits too. Healthy snacks are more likely to leave you feeling energised for your workout, rather than getting comfy in front of Netflix. Fuel up with a balanced diet incorporating wholegrains, lean protein and lots of fruit and veg. Let’s be honest, the last thing you want to do after a big bowl of sugar crash-inducing ice cream is doing something active! Save the sweet treats for later and opt for a fruit like a banana instead.
2. Prepare food in advance
Active people prepare healthy meals in advance. Rather than opening the fridge in the evening and wondering what to make out of two types of cheese and a lonely carrot, how about making a big batch of veg-filled casserole or soup at the weekend so you’ve got healthy dinners and lunches to grab during the week? Healthy meal prep not only makes it easier to eat well, but puts you in a positive mindset to make healthier decisions and leaves more time to do something active.
3. Make exercise a habit you enjoy
Active people have the habits in place to make being active the easy option. They make it an automatic part of their routine so it doesn’t take a massiveeffort to hit their weekly activity goals. They’ve changed into their kit and are out the door before they can think about the alternatives. Regular exercise is much easier if you enjoyit. If you dread the thought of diving into a freezing cold swimming pool at 6 am on a Saturday, you’re not going to stick to it. Find ways to make it fun, sociable, or a way to learn something new, such as dancing with friends or practicing martial arts.
4.Cultivate positive thinking
Have you ever noticed that active people also tend to have a ‘glass half full’ view of life? If you focus on what’s not going well, you’ll feel sluggish and less likely to want to move. By contrast, practising mindfulness and developing an optimistic outlook can help you manage feelings of stress , and help you reconnect to your intentions to be active. Even ten minutes a day can improve your ability to stay present so you can follow through on your goals.
5.Create a healthy daily routine
For most active people, exercise isn’t the only aspect of their life that’s organised –they have a daily routine that keeps them on track. They wake up at the same time every day, so there’s less room for distractions to enter the picture. Not only does this mean they can carve out time for morning exercise, they’ll also be more likely to eat at the same time every day, which helps cut down the likelihood of emergency snacking.
Think about how your routine could set you up for a more active day. Could you incorporate exercise into your commute? What about bedtime? A regular bedtime routine signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. And with a great night’s sleep, you’ll be up and raring to go the next day.
Set yourself up for success by finding what works for you –so it’s easy, enjoyable, and something you’re likely to stick to in the long run.