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It’s all in the planning!

Each of us at some point have made plans with the best intentions, to start exercising, or create a change to improve our health. At the time we tell ourselves things like ‘I should start walking’, ‘I know I will feel better if I do’, ‘I will fit it in before the kids get up, or after work, etc’. But more often than not, unfortunately, we start out great for the first day, maybe two days, maybe a week, or a month, but then we fall off that wagon. We lose motivation, momentum, something gets in the way or breaks our routine, and we once again go back to those ‘I should’ phrases.

Sticking to a plan is hard. Actually, let me step back even further and say, setting up a good plan to start with is really hard! It’s one thing to start exercising, or start any other behaviour that may improve our health, but it is another thing entirely to be able to maintain these habits and behaviours long term. And let’s face it, exercise and movement is a long term game, like gardening, we can’t just weed once a year and have a healthy vibrant garden all year round. It needs to be done on a regular basis, and at the same time we ensure the garden is getting watered, fertilised, pruned, etc.

So how do I get myself to keep moving you ask? Well, that is a very good question. As an Exercise Physiologist I spend a large amount of my time with clients discussing exactly this. Addressing things that go wrong, setting and resetting goals and plans and ensuring you are best set up for success long term.

Here are some tips:

1. Set really good goals – this is an art in itself. Goals need to mean something to you and drive you forward. They should be realistic given where you are at the moment and we need a combination of longer term goals and shorter term goals (small but definite achievements along the way).

2. Set a realistic starting point – too often we set the goal posts too high to begin with and that is the fault of those pesky ‘should’ comments. ‘I should be able to walk 5km easily’ so we begin with this even though we haven’t walked 2km in one go in the last 2 years. Setting unrealistic starting points sets us up for frustration, disappointment and potential injury which is not going to do our motivation and self-worth any good.

3. Make it enjoyable – yes, I know for many of us, exercise is not always fun but we can make it more enjoyable. Hydrotherapy is an awesome form of exercise but if you hate being in the water don’t bother setting yourself a water based exercise plan! Don’t start out with a gym membership if you hate gyms! Discuss options you have enjoyed in the past. Exercise with people you like hanging out with. Have your music on in the back ground. Wear what you want to wear and that you are comfortable in. If you are an outside person, get yourself to the park or beach. Make it suit you and work for you!!

4. Find accountability and support – You don’t need to do this on your own. Seek out support. Whether this is from family or friends, or from an awesome health professional such as an Exercise Physiologist. We are here to support you through your journey as it never goes 100% according to plan. Accountability to another person, can help to keep you motivated and on track. There are also some amazing apps these days which can also help with this, or book it into your diary.

5. Variety – keep it interesting. Variety is good for maintaining our interest and engagement in exercise mentally and physically. It is also super important for injury prevention. Our bodies are not designed to do the same thing day in day out repetitively. Change it up and in the long run aim to include different types of movement in your weekly routine.

Like I said earlier, making changes and starting a new routine when it comes to movement and exercise is never easy and for many of us will not be smooth sailing. We are here to help and support you. Success comes with planning and revisiting our plans regularly. An Exercise Physiologist such as myself would love to work with you and ensure that ultimately, you keep working towards your goals. Whether they be improved health, feeling more energetic or mobile, being able to get out in the garden, playing with your kids or grandkids, or participating in that local Parkrun  you have always wanted the confidence to. We are here for you!!

Don’t get put off! Starting an exercise or movement routine in your week has so so so many benefits. When we do it right exercise can do so many things for us, increase energy, improve mobility and ability to do the things we love, improve pain levels, decrease risk of so many chronic health conditions, and the list goes on and on.

Author: Claire Neylon, Accredited Exercise Physiologist

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