Why is prevention better than cure?
When it comes to our health, prevention is better than cure
Exercising every day can seem challenging when you’ve got competing priorities like work, family and life admin to contend with, but setting daily exercise goals is a great way to stay mentally well and live a longer, healthier life.
In 2014-15, 52% of Australians were not meeting healthy exercise targets of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day, most days of the week. ‘Moderate’ means exercise that raises your heart rate but doesn’t leave you too breathless. If you’re among that group of under-exercisers, these great tips from habit-change specialist Dr Gina Cleo will help you get – and stay – active.
Here are a few tips for making exercise a daily habit:
When it comes to committing to a daily workout routine, it’s important to choose something you look forward to. Gina says the first rule of an ongoing exercise habit is choosing an activity you love.
“Move in whatever way works for you and don’t compare yourself to others,” she says. “If your friends are runners and you can’t stand the thought of it, don’t run – don’t even try to.
“If you start doing something you don’t like, it’s not going to be sustainable and you’re probably then going to say ‘I don’t like exercise’ when really, it’s just running that you don’t like. Be creative, it doesn’t matter what it is – it could be dancing in your lounge room.”
Why not try rock climbing, skipping, biking, hiking or trampolining?
Gina believes one of the biggest barriers to forming a daily exercise habit is time, whether it’s perceived or real.
To overcome this, she advises spreading out exercise across the day.
“If you don’t have a lot of time maybe do 10 minutes in the morning, go for a walk at lunchtime and then come home and do another 10. Just fit it in when you can – it all adds up and makes a difference, so start small and build up from there.”
One of the easiest ways to exercise daily is to put it in your calendar and be as strict about it as you would any other important appointment.
“You don’t miss appointments with the doctor or a big company executive,” says Gina. “And I’d say exercise is just as – if not more – important than those appointments. Keep that date with yourself to honour your health.”
The key to exercising every day – even when you don’t want to – is committing to “just five minutes”, says Gina. Once you get started, it’s easier to continue with exercise.
“It’s really about setting the habit of getting into activewear and starting,” she explains. “When you think about it, regular gym-goers don’t have a habit of exercising, they have a habit of going to the gym, which means getting up, dressed and there.
“The habit we want to create is initiating the exercise, not necessarily the exercise itself.”
Instead of waking up and waiting for this magic stroke of motivation, we have to create it ourselves
Even though missing a day can sometimes feel like a good excuse to give up, according to Gina it’s actually no big deal.
“If you miss a day or two, it’s not going to make a huge difference to your habit development,” she says. “Any more than that just slows it down. You’ll still develop a habit but it won’t be as strong as if you were to show up every day.”
Everyone struggles with motivation from time to time, but Gina says taking action is key to staying on track.
“Instead of waking up and waiting for this magic stroke of motivation – which sometimes never comes – we have to create it ourselves,” she says. “How that looks is we start the exercise – for example, we go for a walk – we feel good and that makes us motivated to go again tomorrow.”
So if you’ve been wondering how to exercise daily, we hope this helps you set up good habits. When you’re ready to get sweating, check out these 7 bodyweight workouts you can do at home – no equipment necessary!
Please note: The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner.
Dr Gina Cleo is one of Australia’s leading wellbeing experts, with a PhD in habit change. She is a dietitian, but Dr Gina’s passion for wellbeing extends beyond just what we eat. She has dedicated her career to helping people understand their habits and how small, consistent steps can impact health and wellbeing. Gina has a secret love-affair with Microsoft Excel and chai lattes.