Whether you’re a fitness fan or someone who needs to be bribed off the sofa, we could all benefit from switching up our normal exercise routine.
If you’re not losing any more weight, or not getting any faster on your runs, you may have hit a fitness plateau. And if you’re the other end of the scale – with your trainers the other end of your wardrobe – you could also do with shaking up your ideas about exercise.
Take our quick quiz, answering A, B, or C, to discover how you can climb out of your fitness rut.
Q1. How would you feel if a friend suggested doing a charity fun run?
a) Unenthused – I’d rather do a serious, timed race
b) Why not? I enjoy having an event to train for
c) Panicked – I’m so SLOW these days
Q2. What do you do when it’s too cold or wet to exercise outdoors?
a) Wear an extra layer and remind myself skin is waterproof!
b) Do something different, like hit the pool or do a class
c) Promise I’ll do an exercise DVD at home (then forget)
Q3. Your friend texts to say she can’t make Zumba. You think:
a) No problem – I can drag her to an extra class tomorrow
b) I suppose I should still go, but it won’t be as much fun
c) Phew – now I can skip it without letting anyone down
Q4. Do you feel you’re getting fitter?
a) I’m still losing weight, and getting stronger and firmer. Go me!
b) Exercise maintains my shape but is no longer changing it
c) Fitter, was that? Or fatter?!
Q5. Exercise to you is:
a) An essential part of life: I eat, sleep, socialise, and exercise!
b) Something I tend to do when I need to shape up
c) Ugh, a chore. Can I stop now?
Rut? What rut? You rarely let a day pass without fitting in a fitness session. Just take care not to put too much pressure on yourself; what’s wrong with the occasional fun run to support a friend? Fitness doesn’t always mean competition, either with others or yourself. And while it’s great you’re so committed, don’t be afraid to use bad weather or friends who cancel as an excuse to do something totally different: how about a circus skills class or rock climbing? It could stop you getting bored in future too.
While you’re still getting the body results you want, remember fitness is about maintaining good mental health too. Watch out for signs of overtraining, such as excessive fatigue or getting ill. Sometimes it’s good to ease off for a few days, if you can handle it…
You like to exercise with a goal in mind, such as a race, charity event, or a social occasion to look good for. But if you want to stay motivated and keep seeing results once you’ve achieved your goal, you need to up the intensity, frequency or type of exercise you do. And don’t leave it too long to set a new goal; a one-off session with a personal trainer could help you stay on track and find your next challenge.
Many of us are motivated by our mates – studies show we find it easier to exercise if it’s sociable – but rather than relying on friends to get you out the door, take a look at social media. Lots of activity trackers have online communities who motivate each other with a bit of friendly competition.
Or try posting your fitness intentions on Facebook or Twitter. This means you’ve made yourself accountable and could also inspire some friends to join in.
It’s no surprise you’re not feeling fit or getting results – you don’t see exercise as having fun or challenging yourself. You need to get re-inspired! Take some time to figure out what elements of fitness you do (or could) enjoy. Do you prefer exercising alone or with friends? Training outside or inside a gym? Dedicated workouts or ‘hidden’ activities like gardening, DIY or playing with the kids? If you’re creative, you could also look for inspiring pictures and quotes to create a ‘mood board’ of the fit, new you.
Once you’ve come up with some motivational ideas, start matching them to solutions. These could be starting a jogging club with friends, asking the instructor at the gym to remind you how all those machines actually work, or finding an adult league for a sport you enjoyed at school. You could also book a wellness holiday – like hiking, yoga or learning to dive – to put you back in contact with feeling good. Exercise isn’t just about losing the most weight, it’s about getting the most out of life too.
Feeling inspired? Find more exercise ideas in our fitness section.
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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.