No fail guide to making exercise a habit

By Alanah Bray on January 18th, 2024

For many of us, January means fitness resolutions, but these can be hard to keep when it’s dark and cold. Alanah Bray is a Master Personal Trainer and gym manager of the Fitagain PT Gym in Colyton, East Devon, and she knows first-hand how these barriers can stop us from even getting started. She gives us her top tips for starting an exercise program in winter…

We all know that exercise in any form is good for us. It can help combat and alleviate many health complaints and complications, from arthritis to osteoporosis, to menopausal symptoms and allowing us to get a better night’s sleep. It can lift your mood and even heighten your sex drive – the benefits are endless! So why do we find it so hard to get off our backsides?!

With the dark nights and chilly weather giving us a good excuse to hide under a big fluffy jumper, is now even a good time to start an exercise routine?!

I’ll let you into a little secret… There will never be a good time, or a right time – the BEST time is NOW! Your brain, which is wired up to protect you from anything you might not enjoy, is probably already making excuses, so ignore it and instead give yourself permission to lead a healthier happier lifestyle. You won’t ever regret the benefits to feeling and being more functional.

At the end of the day age is a number, it’s your functionality that ages you. When your body stops allowing you to achieve things is when we feel old. Want to know some cold hard facts? Around 1 in 3 (34%) of men and 1 in 2 (42%) of women are not active enough for good health. Physical inactivity is associated with 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually (including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone). Unfortunately, our population is around 20% less active than in the 1960s. If current trends continue, it will be 35% less active by 2030. Many people don’t realise that physical activity has significant benefits for health, both physical and mental, and can help to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression. Our society normalises inactivity but don’t be fooled – it will catch up with us all.

Motivated to move? Ok, so now we need to get it done! Here are some top tips on creating a habit to exercise:

Have a goal

This needs to be specific, timely and achievable to you – e.g. walk/jog a local park run by the end of January. Remember that all exercise is good, so pick something that motivates you as long as you’re moving. There’s plenty of indoor options too!

Set up a process to achieve that goal

The difference between being successful or unsuccessful at your goal is creating a system to get you there. So, how will you start – for example, begin couch to 5k, go for a 15-minute walk, or join a club?

Make the process a habit

Processes need clarity, not motivation. As with an appointment, schedule your process into your week – e.g. I will run on Monday at 9am after I have dropped the kids to school. Actually make an appointment with yourself, put it in your diary, set it in stone. Make sure you remove any barriers beforehand, for example, get all of the clothes or kit that you need ready the day before, put your running shoes by the door, and just go for it!

Follow @fitagainPT for tips on motivation, free workouts and more around the topics of creating habits and becoming disciplined. Need more motivation? Join one of the new retreats: www.fitagainretreats.com

Contact Fitagain at info@fitagain.co.uk or call 01297816170

Alanah Bray

Alanah Bray is a Master Personal Trainer at the Fitagain PT Gym in Colyton, East Devon. Specialising in fitness for the over 40s, Alanah changed career to join the team post-lockdown, after finding the gym initially as a client.

All articles by Alanah Bray

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