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Five tips for starting and sticking to exercise

Have fun!

Sticking to an exercise regime is much easier when you’re doing activities you actually enjoy.

If you hate running, then you won’t feel very motivated to put on your runners and hit the pavement three times a week. If you prefer bike riding or lifting weights – do that instead!

Tailored timing

As much as possible, try to set exercise times and days that suit your preferences and fit in with your other commitments, such as work and family time.

The better that your exercise program fits into your life, the more sustainable it will be over the long term. Getting it right might be a combination of choosing the best exercise times you can find and shuffling some other commitments where you can.

Trying to hit the gym at 4am three times a week is unlikely to be sustainable if you’re not a ‘morning person’. Coffee and enthusiasm may get you to the first few sessions, but sticking to it will be difficult.

If you’re feeling short of free time, then you could look at quicker modes of exercise that still deliver great results, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Consistency

Setting aside specific times and days for exercise will help you to establish a routine. Over time, that routine will become a healthy habit that sticks.

Consistency really is the key to getting the most out of exercise.

You don’t have to be delivering personal best performance every single time, but try not to regularly miss sessions. Some days you won’t have the energy to go all out, and that’s absolutely OK, because ‘crushing it’ every single session isn’t realistic or sustainable.

Slow and steady

When starting a new exercise program, it’s important to ease yourself into it. This is particularly true if you’re new to regular exercise or coming back to it after a long break.

Don’t feel pressured to perform ‘hero lifts’ in your weights session or run like an athlete the first time you hit the oval. Doing so could lead to injury, which can put you out of action for days, weeks or even months.

Enthusiasm is great, but there’s no need to go full throttle in your first few sessions. Exercise is a life long pursuit.

Consistency and progression (increasing the challenge over time) are the key factors that will deliver fitness gains.

Mix things up

If you’re doing the same exercises week in, week out, all year long …you’re far more likely to get bored and lose interest in your exercise program. Your body’s adaptation to those particular activities will also mean that the magnitude of ongoing fitness improvements will become significantly lower over time than when you first started.

Variety is a great way to fend off boredom and performance plateaus.

You don’t need to change up your program every other day. Chopping and changing too often means you won’t get the most out of progressing each exercise, such as lifting more weight or running faster times.

Most people find that exercise program blocks of four to five weeks strike a good balance.

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