How to motivate non-exercisers Q&A part 2

Habit is seen as a major way to ensure exercise becomes part of your lifestyle – do you have any tips on how one can get into good exercise habits?

alamrclockFind times of day that you feel comfortable exercising and can commit to. Make it as easy for yourself as you can to ensure you do it. Again make sure you put it in your diary, like any important appointment so you don’t schedule conflicting activities. Also arrange to meet a friend for a run or join a club/gym that has set training times – you are more likely to stick to a pre-agreed training session.

What are your top stick with it motivation tips, especially for those who aren’t naturally athletic or don’t enjoy exercise?

Ensure your exercise routine is varied to constantly challenge the body to produce results. This will naturally mean the sessions are more enjoyable and ward off that feeling of reaching a plateau in your training. Build in regular check points and then reward yourself for achieving each goal. For example, you could have a goal as ‘I will do 30 minutes of running 3 times a week for the next month’. If at the end of the month you’ve achieved that goal then treat yourself, but remember to set the next goal too and make it slightly harder.

Find an activity that you enjoy and you will be far more likely to keep it up. Nordic walking, martial arts, dance, swimming, cycling, rowing, boot-camps, horse riding, water sports, weightlifting and cross-fit to name just a few.

How would you advise to continue forward once your goals have been reached?

Once you have enjoyed a short period of rest to allow the body to regenerate, it is vital to re-establish a new goal to work towards and put the appropriate training programme in place to achieve this. You must try not to fall into the all too familiar trap of yo-yo dieters. Keep the momentum going and don’t settle for just ok!

Do you have any clever psychological tricks that will help the exercise averse to start enjoying exercise?

tightjeansThe inspiration of someone you aspire to look like or an item of clothing that no longer fits can often help motivate people. By placing a picture of this individual or hanging up those clothes in a location where you are constantly reminded of what you are trying to achieve can often help.

Just getting out the door is half the battle, you rarely ever feel worse after a workout. So if you are really feeling tired or lethargic just say to yourself you are only going to go out for 10 minutes of exercise. In the majority of cases once you’ve started you’ll find that you feel better and keep going far beyond the 10 minutes.

What do you say to people who feel it’s almost too late to start if they’re in their 30s, 40s or beyond and haven’t exercised before?

elderladyyogaIt is never too late to start exercising as long as your Doctor has cleared you to do so. There are many examples of people coming to exercise in later years and achieving amazing things.

The oldest athlete at my triathlon club is 70 years of age and he is in amazing shape. He could wipe the floor with people half his age. My advice would be to stay active for as long as you can and you will reap the rewards. Even if you have injury restrictions preventing you from doing certain activities, there is always an alternative. Swimming is often a safe option for a lot of restrictions but always check with a specialist first.

My dad is my inspiration and an example I use to many of my clients. He is 55 years of age and a banker in the city. He suffered from many of the same barriers as other city workers; lack of sleep, eating late and lack of time. 7 years ago he was smoking daily, overweight and suffering from an overactive thyroid that initially caused high blood pressure and raised cholesterol.

I had been pestering him for years that he needed to make some changes but this is something that he needed to decide for himself.

One day something clicked and he found an incentive. He realised that he wanted to be around to see his future grandchildren, have a longer healthier life and an active retirement. Call it an epiphany but it encouraged him to take up running, join the gym near his work and see a hypnotherapist for his smoking.

He has now completed 7 half marathons and has plans to do many more in the future. He has not smoked a day since his first therapy session and reduced his lung age to 45…….10 years younger than his current age. He had been smoking heavily since he was 16 so this is another example of how it is never too late to turn your life around.

His medication controls the thyroid problem but the exercise has significantly helped to reduce his blood pressure alongside this medication. He is in the shape of his life and his advice to anyone who thinks it’s too late is to track your progress so you can see the changes first hand and not to panic if you don’t see results straight away. These things can take time so be patient and stick with it.

You just need to find your motivation. It doesn’t always need to be for yourself, your motivation could be for your family too, being more mobile and active to keep up with your children or being able to spend more weekends away with a loved one. It could be to see parts of the world that you have only dreamed of or to do activities you never thought possible.

Additionally people that take up exercise later in life usually appreciate the benefits more, are stronger minded and more likely to keep going. And remember that even a small amount of regular activity can significantly decrease your risk of many health problems such as heart disease and diabetes!


About the author

Hannah developed a passion for fitness from a very young age which led her to compete in a wide range of sports including netball and athletics, where she trained and competed for several years. She graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 2009 with a Degree in Health, Exercise & Nutrition, during which she gained experience in the fitness testing of elite athletes including Cyclists and Triathletes.

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