At last! Days are getting longer and everyone starts making plans for summer – including getting fit.
But if your New Year’s exercise resolutions fizzled out, don’t worry. Now is the perfect time to restart your fitness regime.
Rethink your goals
A classic start-of-year mistake is setting unrealistic goals – like running every morning before work when you’ve never been a morning person. Or a runner.
Making them too big is another error. OK, maybe you want to lose three stone but it’s much easier to break that down into smaller goals, such as losing 7lbs at a time. Setting specific goals is also better. ‘I want to get fit’ is too general, but ‘I want to swim five lengths without stopping’ is more specific and more achievable.
Think about your original fitness goals and see if you can break them down, or make them more specific. Then write them down, save them as a daily reminder in your phone, or share them on social media – studies show telling others about your goals means you’re more likely to achieve them.
Get out of that rut
Even if you can stick to a fitness routine, you may not be getting the results you want. Fitness professionals call this a ‘plateau’; the same activity seems to have stopped working because you’re no longer seeing the results – such as weight loss – you enjoyed at first.
This may be because your body has successfully adapted to that type and level of exercise. As you get better at something, your body is able to do it more efficiently, so it requires fewer calories for fuel. You may also feel a bit bored because you’ve been doing the same gym exercises or fitness DVD for weeks.
To get out of this fitness rut, you just need to shake things up. Try exercising for longer, more often, or up the intensity. Changing the time of your workout, or who you do it with, could also work. Or maybe add in a new activity that will challenge your body in different ways, such as yoga or dance classes?
Start lifting weights
Adding some strength training to your weekly routine can help burn fat by increasing your muscle mass and revving your metabolism. It can also help maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
Ask a PT at your gym to design you a weights workout, or see if you can sign up for a kettle bells or circuits class. Don’t forget, body-weight exercises such as press-ups or squats also count as strength training.
Pick a new sport
If you’re getting bored with fitness, think back to sports you enjoyed at school: tennis? Rounders? Netball? Then find a local club where you can revisit your sporty youth.
You could also try complementary activities as a form of cross training. If you love running or cycling, for example, yoga or Pilates are great for increasing core strength and flexibility, which can improve your performance.
Set a challenge
Spring is the ideal time to sign up for a fitness challenge that takes place in early summer. It could be an obstacle course race, a mountain trek, a cycling sportif or a sprint triathlon.
Raising money for a charity close to your heart will keep you committed to training, and the achievement of completing the challenge should keep you motivated for months after.
Update your fitness kit
Just as you’d update your normal wardrobe at the start of a new season, why not reinvigorate your fitness gear? Chuck out anything old, see-through, or slightly smelly, and treat yourself to something new.
It should make you feel good and give you the perfect excuse to get fighting fit by summer!
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This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine. Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.