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Making Exercise a Habit That Sticks



Health & Fitness

Making Exercise a Habit That Sticks

Most people fail to realise that picking the right kind of exercise will determine whether you stick to it or give up. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

It is a few weeks to February and some people have fallen off the exercising wagon. So how do you bridge the divide between wanting to exercise and actually exercising year in, year out? Some argue that scheduling the exercise with a friend, working out at the same time, setting goals or letting money to be a big motivator may help one eventually turn exercising into a habit.

However, most people fail to realise that picking the right kind of exercise will determine whether you stick to it or give up.

Arnold Oyuru, a physical exercise for beginner’s specialist at Mofit Kenya says that because many people sign up for a gym without doing a physical body assessment from an expert, they end up not achieving their goal which ultimately leads to frustrations.

“The lack of assessment means that someone ends up not picking the right exercises that are catered to your weight loss needs. Many gym-goers just try everything without a sense of direction,” he says.

To make it last and enjoyable, think like an athlete. This may sound like a big challenge, but it’s not as big a leap as you think.

Esther Awour who started walking as a way of exercise after her father developed a stroke, stopped using her busy life as an excuse not to exercise.

The 35-year-old who started her fitness journey six years ago says that having a personal trainer for the initial two years is what made it possible to turn it into a habit.

“For the first two years, I had a personal trainer who was very effective and passionate about what he does. He saw how hungry I was to be fit and as much as I used to whine sometimes, I showed up, put in the work and gave my entire self to it,” she says.

She was also not fixated on a particular number like most people seeking to lose weight, making exercising feel like a chore.

“When someone obsesses about how much they want to weigh not factoring their muscles, they may in fact increase in weight, then end up thinking that the exercise is not effective,” she says.

In addition to feeling self-conscious about looks or fitness levels, uncomfortable physical sensations and fear of injury can add anxiety, making it hard to motivate yourself to get to the gym, says Mr Oyuru.

The fitness expert says that when a person does the same exercise routine for over a month without pushing the body ever slightly, then they will end up plateauing because the body is not challenged.

“This goes back to not getting an assessment and determining what your body can take as far as exercising is concerned. Most people are unaware of what their body is capable of doing and so they end up doing the bare minimum expecting different results,” he says.

“Do not go from zero to a 100 right off the bat, just start simple and push yourself further every time. You cannot however do three laps, running in a field for a month and not make changes because your body would be used to this hurdle and you won’t achieve your goal,” he says.

Ms Awour adds that diet also played a key role in the results of her exercise regimen which in turn made it possible to stay fit and keep working out.

“I cut out sodas, processed juices and junk food from my diet. It is all about focusing on your goals, listening to your body and understanding what it needs not what your mind wants,” she says.

She adds that her secret however is not trying to over think the process.

“I write a list of things I must do, but when I stop and think about it, I realise tomorrow is always in the future. So with this in mind, I focus on what I want and need to do in this moment, and know this is what will bring my dreams into reality,” she says.