Once you get into the habit of exercise, it becomes easier to motivate yourself to go for a run or take a trip to the gym. The potential problem is that you might also fall into a bad habit or two. Here are some top tips to help you not just stay on track but to improve your levels of fitness. And sometimes it means breaking a habit, even if it is a good one.
Vary your workout
The first habit to break is doing the same exercise every time you go to the gym. Mix it up a bit. Not only is variety the spice of life, it is also the way to get more from your fitness sessions. It will also help prevent injury. By using different activities, you work different body parts. For example, if your fitness session is always a run followed by some light weights, occasionally try a Pilates session or a boxercise class. You will discover muscles that haven’t had a good work out for a while.
Vary the intensity
When you go for a run, do you tend to always run at about the same pace and maintain a steady rhythm? Add in bursts of high intensity work – maybe five 10 second bursts of sprinting. You will find you are pushing your body to work a little harder and as a result you will start to see an improvement in your fitness. By asking your systems – muscular and cardiovascular – to work a bit harder, you are helping those systems cope with higher demands. You are also burning are calories as a result.
Adjust your targets regularly
If you have a fitness tracker, don’t just follow pre-set targets. Adjust steps, active minutes and calorie targets to build on your progress. Follow the same principle with your workouts. Check and adjust your targets every four to six weeks to make sure you are not settling into a habit that may be keeping you fit but is not helping you improve.
Make time work for you
If you are short of time, try raising the intensity level of your workout. Official NHS targets suggest 150 minutes of moderate activity a week as a minimum but have now added that 75 minutes of vigorous activity will be equally beneficial. Apply the same principle to your fitness habit. If you usually do three 60 minute cardio sessions a week but can’t fit them in one week because of other commitments, do two 30 minute sessions but really ramp up the intensity so you are hitting a higher heart rate for a sustained period. For example, replace a 60 minute cycle with a 30 minute spin class. Instead of a long, steady run, find a hill and do a short session of hill sprints.
Sign up for an event
One way to break routine and change your fitness habit is to train for a big event. It gives you a very clear target to work towards and there are often some great training plans around the event, which will give a new impetus to your training. One top tip – don’t go straight for the biggest event. Enter a few smaller events first so you get used to taking part in organised events. Get used to the challenges of taking part in an event. These include: competing with others, sorting your kit out for an event, packing food and drink, how to take on nutrients during an event, then you will be confident when you step out for the big challenge.