Sticking with your fitness routine beyond January

Every year, millions of people over the world make a new year’s resolution to start getting fit. Each January is filled with encouraging ads, special offers at gyms and a whole range of other stuff designed to get you in the mood to shed those holiday pounds. Unfortunately, not many people manage to stick with their fitness routine beyond the first couple of months. Are you one of the of regular exercise behind you is also promising. But as we all know, the trend may kick off with a bang, but it also ends with a whimper, as more and more would-be fitness buffs drop off. Truth be told, unless you live in the southern hemisphere, January is pretty much the dead of winter. Most people need more motivation to get out of bed when it’s cold and dark, let alone do strenuous physical activities. This makes January a difficult time to start exercising. On the other hand, once spring hits, the days get noticeably longer and being outside is fun again, you may well feel the urge to exercise. So don’t feel the need to follow the trend, or not being able to keep focussed during winter. Save you energy for when it’s easier for you to get motivated.  Once you start, you may find that it’s easier to carry on. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals like serotonin, endorphins and dopamine. Exercise often enough and you will effectively become “addicted”. Start in spring and by the time January comes round again, your brain will associate exercise with feeling good and you’ll be able to carry on with full motivation.

Don’t go too hard

It’s said that anything we want is either about running towards something or running away from something. If you’re looking to get fit, you’re either running away from something like poor health or negative body image or running towards an ideal fitness goal or look you want to achieve. Either way, it can be very frustrating to start at the bottom when you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. The temptation is strong to exercise every day, pick an extreme form of exercise or push your body to the max. However, this can be very damaging. If you injure yourself, you’ll have to take time off to recover, losing any fitness advantage you may have gained. You are not likely to meet your targets if you’re nursing a torn ligament or a bad back. Start gently, especially if you’re over 40 or new to exercise. It’s also OK to rest if you feel that you’ve been overdoing it. It’s common to have a day’s rest when getting into running or working out at the gym, but that may not be enough if you’ve been putting your body through an excessive exercise routine for too long. If you feel exhausted, drained or tight, you should take three to seven days off to give your body a chance to heal. During those days, you can do gentle stretching and movement exercise to keep the muscles relaxed, but no serious exercise until you feel better.

Make it interesting

Some people love the gym, while others find it repetitive and boring. No matter what your fitness goals are, there’s bound to be something you can do that will interest you enough to do regularly, whether it’s running outdoors, doing yoga or martial arts, dancing or interval training. It’s worth trying out a few things to see what interests you. Also, there is no reason why you can’t have a fitness routine composed of several different things. Many gyms have classes you can attend alongside the usual cardio or resistance training. Bringing your own music to the gym can also make a world of difference to your motivation.

Even if you’re feeling the pinch and are looking for completely free ways of staying fit, there are plenty of things to choose from. The Internet is full of free exercise videos and sites that can teach you how to successfully start running or do bodyweight exercises or HIIT at home with minimum requirements. Remember that your ultimate goal in any case is to be active and fit, so if you’re bored of one thing, replace it with another, rather than give up completely.