You’re glued to the TV, can’t be separated from your smartphone and constantly checking social media. But what about being addicted to exercise?
You’ll be surprised what a few lifestyle tweaks and a little motivation can do to transform your fitness habits. Here’s how to get addicted to exercise.
1. Pay For A Gym Membership
Signing up to a long-term contract and committing to a membership is a risky business, especially if you’re forking out hundreds to join. However, knowing that a chunk of your pay packet is going to those smiling faces at the gym is a huge incentive to get down there and make the most of your membership.
Once you’ve signed the dotted line, frame it. Seeing your goals in writing can be hugely motivating – a little reminder of what you want to achieve. Dr. Gail Matthews of the Dominican University in California conducted a ‘goal-setting’ study of 267 participants in which she discovered that you are ‘42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.’ It creates purpose and direction – no more excuses!
2. Give It 56 Days
56 days seems like a long time, but it’s realistic. Many have spurts of fitness motivation, which is soon quashed when they don’t see the results they hoped for. This is because a) it’s too short a time to witness progress b) they aren’t in the habit of exercising regularly yet.
Dispel the myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit – it doesn’t. The University College London looked into the phenomenon of habit building with the help of 96 participants who were asked to choose an ‘everyday habit’ that they’d like to establish, and record their progress over the course of 84 days; including their success in completing the task and feelings towards it.
From the study, researchers found considerable variation according to what habit the person was practising, their health and willpower. But on average, the results suggested that it takes 56 days to form a habit, with exercise proving the most difficult to get into.
The key here is not to get disheartened; persist even when you’re not in the mood. It’s the repetitive nature of the habit that you need to master. Soon enough you’ll hate missing gym sessions and will do anything you can to catch up.
3. Take Small Steps
Throwing yourself in at the deep end won’t work. Not only will it leave you disheartened, but it also makes you more prone to injury. If you’re a complete beginner, take small steps, focusing on the key areas you want to work on. Once you start to get frustrated by how easy your initial training is, you’ll naturally want to challenge and push yourself; but again, don’t overdo it.
To begin with, avoid high impact workouts that put excessive strain on the joints, such as running – there’s no such thing as ‘no pain, no gain.’ Instead, concentrate on exercises that are less intense, like swimming or yoga to improve flexibility.
There are thousands of training plans and guides available on the web, designed to help fitness-newbies get off on the right foot.
4. Exercise First Thing In The Morning
Many argue that they haven’t got the time to exercise, and a way to overcome this obstacle is by embracing morning workouts. Set an earlier alarm and don’t hit snooze; in fact, don’t think at all. Just jump out of bed, don your gym gear and get moving.
Early morning workouts come with a plenitude of benefits. Not only does setting your alarm an hour earlier free up the rest of your day; it sharpens your focus, boosts your metabolic rate and improves your mood.
And to top it off, research made by the University of New South Wales also found that early exercisers are also ‘more likely to stick with a fitness regime than those who leave it until later in the day.’ If you want your fitness habit to stick, be an early bird.
5. Go Digital and Social
Turn your social media addiction into a love for exercise. If you’re constantly posting, tweeting or checking-in, use it to your advantage by keeping friends and followers updated with your fitness progress. For some, knowing that all eyes are on them is the perfect incentive to get off the couch and on the treadmill.
If social networking isn’t your thing and you hate the thought of sharing before and after pics, make fitness apps your new gym buddy. Nike Training Club and the like are a great source of new workouts and motivation, not to mention a useful way to track your progress.
6. Do It For Charity
If you’re stuck for a reason to drag yourself out of bed and lace up your running shoes, give purpose to your workouts by doing it for charity. Set sky-high goals and achieve the impossible, whilst raising hundreds of pounds for a cause that’s close to your heart.
There’s one danger of getting addicted to exercise, and that’s doing it for the wrong reasons. Sure you’ll look amazing, but don’t let the physical benefits drive you to workout more and more. Exercising for a charity makes it not about personal gain, but the greater good – a really empowering and fulfilling way to gain perspective and get fit in one.