7 Ways To Stick At Exercise

Started getting fit in lockdown and want to carry on? Here are some tips from Fiona, a lifetime fitness professional.

This article was first published on Medium by The Zone’s Editor, Fiona Bugler – Find and follow, clap, share: https://medium.com/@FBugler

First of all check with your GP or practice nurse that it’s okay to exercise (in almost all cases it is) and then set out to make some gradual changes that will still bring you some results within weeks.

1. Create a vision

It’s easier when you’re back at work and in your old routine to forget what you may have achieved in this unique time, when many of us have been given space and time to get out and exercise. So take the time time now, to create in your mind a vision of where you want fitness to take you and what will help you achieve your goals. Writing down what you want to achieve as if you’ve already achieved it, creating ‘mood boards’ with pictures of how you want to look and feel have been proven to increase your chances of success.

2. Make a Plan

The 30, 60 and 90 day planning process is often applied to business planning, job seeking and sales. And it’s a great strategy to apply to fitness planning, too. Most personal trainers work to make changes after six weeks. Try to change one habit a week, or try something new every week. For example, in week two you could add in an extra set of eight lunges — a great exercise for the legs where you step forward, literally lunge down and return to starting position — will tone the legs and bum. Or for flat abs try doing the plank every other day, from week three onwards. Support your body weight on your elbows and toes and as you lie like a ‘plank’ with your back long and straight, neck in line with the spine, and your belly button drawn in towards your back, contracting those deep core abdominal muscles. Hold for 30–60 seconds. By week four why not add in walking to work? The choice is yours. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s new.

3. Walk don’t run

Bodies such as the British Heart Foundation recommend walking 10,000 steps a day measured using a pedometer. Most of us walk between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day anyway, so reaching 10,000, or around five miles, is a realistic and achievable goal. If you weigh in at 11st (70kg) you’ll burn 440 calories by walking 10,000 steps briskly (3.5mph). If walking to work isn’t an option, take note, one study has found that the train is best, with train users walking an average of 30 per cent more steps a day, and four times more likely to walk 10,000 steps per day than car commuters.[1]

4. Exercise in the morning

When it comes to when’s the best time of day to exercise the jury’s out. In terms of physiological effectiveness, many studies have found that late afternoon is best as this is when your body temperature is optimum. When it comes to sticking at it, other research has found getting up and getting it done in the morning is most effective, and that our body clock (circadian rhythms) adapt best to morning training [2]. And according to the American College Of Sports Medicine, working out in the morning, will also help you sleep better.[3] If you’re not in the habit of early starts, now is the time to re-set your body clock. Plan to train as if you’ve got to get ready for work after, don’t treat this like a holiday.

5. Join a Group

Scientists at Oxford University studying a group of rowers found that group exercise can release the happy hormones endorphins, making you not just happier but more effective as you workout.[4] Group exercise, such as aerobic and studio classes are a great way to get started in fitness. Of course, in Lockdown and for who knows how long after, this is now online — which for newbies has a lot of advantages, getting you used to working out and giving you confidence. Both on and off-line qualified instructors are very good at motivating you to work hard and adapting classes for different levels of fitness. But do check they are qualified so you can learn and adapt and progress.

6. Stick to the old school exercises

Old school military exercises such as sit ups, press ups and burpees have stood the test of time; one because they’re effective, two, because there are only so many ways we can move our body — and three they are easy to do. The old school PE lesson style exercises still work. The current buzz is around high intensity interval training (HIIT), where you work as hard as you can (around 95 per cent of max heart rate) for very short bursts, but that’s not new. It’s how Roger Bannister trained to break the four-minute mile!

7. Do weights

If you want to burn fat, pump iron. The biggest misconception is that cardio is the only way to burn calories and lose fat. But when you train at a lower intensity, for example, marathon running, your body learns to store fat as fuel, the fuel it needs to use on longer runs. The quickest and most effective way to change your body shape is through weight training, which teaches your body to store glycogen as fuel in the muscles. You create more lean muscle, which not looks aesthetically pleasing, but it also means that your body becomes more efficient at burning calories, after you’ve worked out, the ‘after burn’ effect. And remember you don’t need to use weights, your own body weight works too. You can add resistance when you use your imagination (pull ups on park equipment power jumps onto a step or bench, and of course there’s always baked beans!


[1] http://eab.sagepub.com/content/39/1/62.abstract

[2] http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/anatomyandphysiology/a/WhenToExercise.htm>>

[3] http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/acsm-in-the-news/2011/08/01/for-best-sleep-work-up-a-sweat-in-the-morning

[4] http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_releases_for_journalists/090916.html


Tag @thezone_mag on Instagram or tweet us @thezone_mag to share your #LockdownLessons: What positive lessons have you learned? Has your wellbeing improved? What will you do when this is all over and things return to ‘normal’?

Published by thezone2020

Writers and editors from publishing company Intrinsic Wellbeing. We explore ideas, conduct interviews and share news and thought pieces on wellbeing focussing on the workplace. We launched during Covid-19, so lots to talk about!

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