Five Simple Ways To Get Into Exercise Today
Everyone struggles with getting active at some point. Here are five simple tips to get you off your butt and make regular exercise a habit – even if you think you’re past the point of being motivated.
When it comes to fitness, it’s easy to be intimidated. There’s so much to consider, from the right gym clothes to the cult of Crossfit, and how much vegan protein powder your recovery smoothie has. Was being active meant to be confusing? Nope! It’s all about simplifying, and there are many easy ways to be active and enjoy yourself at the same time.
#1 Understand your mind and get out of your head
If you’re constantly talking yourself out of exercise, exercise isn’t the issue. We need to address the one thing that can completely destroy any good intentions before you even start: your big, beautiful brain.
My brand of self-sabotage involves imagining how embarrassing I’d look doing an activity. I create unrealistic scenarios about the gym, ranging from people staring at me to falling over on the treadmill in front of someone cute. The possibilities are endless! They are also 100 per cent not going to happen (I hope) but it’s enough to sway me. I’m seriously good at self-sabotage, ask my friends!
It turns out we all are. Relationship expert and life coach, Mel Robbins, explains that this kind of mental cyclone is pretty common because our brains are literally wired to protect us from perceived risk. They have many crafty ways of doing that – including negative self-talk, excuses and a known phenomenon called the spotlight effect, where your brain magnifies risk. How can physical activity be considered a risk? Because of one seemingly innocuous instinct we all have.
If you have an impulse to do something you don’t normally do (say, rock climbing) you’ll probably hesitate before moving forward with your decision. It only takes a microsecond, but according to Mel, “that small hesitation sends a stress signal to your brain… then your brain goes to work to protect you”. In other words, if you don’t hesitate when you’re tying your shoes or making breakfast but hesitate when you want to scale a rock wall, your brain thinks there must be something wrong.
The mind is a master saboteur, but you’re not off the hook: there’s an antidote. In her wildly popular Ted Talk, Mel explains the way to avoid constant inaction is through action, namely, the five-second rule. “If you have an impulse and you don’t marry it with an action within five seconds, you pull the emergency brake and kill the idea”. So you have five seconds to seal the deal before your brain registers a hesitation. Thinking about going for a run? Grab your shoes, stand up – anything – and you’ll be hitting the pavement faster than you can say, “Take, that Brain!”
#2 Don’t try to do it all by yourself
Letting yourself down is surprisingly easy, but letting down others feels terrible. Harness this fact by outsourcing your accountability. Get an exercise buddy! Not cancelling on a mate is a pretty great reason to get active.
You have to choose the right buddy though – someone who is strong willed, positive and knows your lame excuses. And once you start becoming more active, it feels so great it’s self-motivating, so you won’t be high maintenance for long.
#3 Gamify your workouts
Prefer a virtual exercise buddy? There are some excellent ways technology is helping us stay motivated. Working like a pimped out fitness tracker, the Qantas Assure App lets you be rewarded for the physical activity you do, and it’s also great for your competitive streak – you can challenge your mates in the App.
The seven-day Friend’s Challenge rewards 1st, 2nd and 3rd place with extra rewards, in addition to the glory of completely owning your friends. And if you’d rather compete against yourself, the App will reward you for meeting personal goals and winning challenges. Encouragement and competition via your phone is as convenient as motivation gets.
#4 Be strategic with your time
A common excuse for not getting into exercise is a perceived lack of time. We’re just so busy! There’s not enough time to eat, let alone workout! You’d probably rather sit in a pit of snakes than have That One Friend tell you how easy it is to ‘just wake up earlier’ again.
You have to get to and from work each day, right? Instead of sitting on public transport and then sitting at a desk all day, make your commute your daily physical activity. You know; two birds, one stone. A bike is a primo dual-purpose, eco-friendly form of incidental exercise (the exercise we get from daily activities). If the idea of riding a bike makes you nervous or you don’t know where to start, read this. You can also skate or use what your mamma gave you by walking, and it’s a formula you can apply to any daily or weekly excursions or chores.
#5 Don’t bother with the stuff you genuinely don’t like
No one will hand you a medal for suffering through an outdoor, 6am boot camp when you’re definitely not a morning person and hate group fitness. Doing things you genuinely don’t like just because you think you’re supposed to do them isn’t a formula for longevity. Think about your interests and the things you appreciate, and look for aspects of these in different activities.
If music lights you up, hit up some dance classes (there are heaps of excellent ones around, like this Beyonce dance class, or this retro ’80s-themed aerobic workout). If you hate group classes but love being outdoors, blend travel, fitness and adventure by grabbing a friend and using weekends to tackle some epic hikes. If you get bored easily, get a ClassPass and try a new activity each week. If there’s no better feeling than sticking to a program and smashing through progressive goals, hit the gym. And if you’re a fish out of water at the gym, take surfing lessons. There is literally something for everyone.
Looking after your body is not about how many kilojoules you burn, what gear you’re wearing or the muscle #gains. Being active is about how you feel – because feeling good and having a great time while you’re at it is a recipe for health that lasts a lifetime.
The Qantas Assure App can help you set goals and be rewarded for being active. Earn Qantas Points for everyday activities like walking the dog, going for a jog or riding your bike*. You can find everything you need to know here. Or download the Qantas Assure App on iOS or Android to start earning Qantas Points today.
Sonia was the Founding Editor of The Cusp. You can find her on Instagram @sonnietothetee