Keeping fit: how to gain and maintain motivation to exercise

Keeping fit
As National Fitness Day approaches, there are some tips to stay motivated to get fit. Source: Q000024 (via: pxhere)
In preparation for National Fitness Day, there are some tools that you can use to get into fitness and discover new ways of keeping fit.

By Vicky Witts | Advice Editor

Resolutions of keeping fit, going to the gym, and losing weight seem to appear in overwhelming numbers at the turn of the new year.

This year however, the trend of making healthier lifestyle resolutions and trying out new workout methods has had a second wave throughout lockdown, as many people have attempted to become more productive and use their new free-time to work on themselves.

Much like at the beginning of a new year though, many of the resolutions that we made throughout lockdown were broken, and people have either maintained the same level of fitness that they began the pandemic with, or lost any routine that they had while the gyms were still open.

As well as this, the Office for National Statistics found that the most popular activity for adults during lockdown in the UK was streaming videos and watching TV, which took up 2 hours and 53 minutes a day on average. This increase in indoor activities during lockdown has likely meant that many of us have spent less time taking care of ourselves both physically and mentally.

Even if you were one of the dedicated people who committed to having an exercise routine or maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout lockdown, keeping fit may have begun to feel monotonous. Especially if you stuck to the same routines or increased the amount of exercise you did to cure any boredom that might have come with the extra free time many of us experienced.

Whatever the case, many of us need some guidance about how to begin focusing on our fitness or find the motivation to carry on if we have already started.

In preparation for National Fitness Day on the 23rd of September 2020, there are some tools and ideas that you can use to discover new ways of working on your health and fitness in the coming months.

Keeping healthy with limitations

For many people, the hardest part of getting into fitness and working on your health is getting motivated to start. However, to some, getting into exercise is particularly difficult as they have restrictions which may prevent them from following the usual gym routines or exercise classes.

For example, people with limited funds may not be able to afford a usually relatively expensive gym membership or the fitness specific clothing that we are commonly told is required to successfully achieve a healthier lifestyle.

It is important to know, however, that getting into fitness does not require specialist equipment or large amounts of money. Simply going outside for runs, watching one of the many free workout videos available online, or using a fitness tracker app while walking to and from work or university, can help you get started and track your progress without investing too much money.

Another restriction which some people may find limits their capability to participate in common fitness routines are physical limitations and disabilities. In this case, it may simply not be possible to cope with the physical requirements demanded in activities such as running or following popular online video classes.

However, that is not to say that staying fit in this case is impossible. With the large quantity of online content available on platforms such as YouTube, there are fitness videos targeted at almost all abilities, such as lower intensity alternatives being shown throughout a workout, or routines specifically targeted for certain requirements, such as being sat down.

Additionally, the NHS website has lists compiling information such as accessible gym locations and disability specific sports organisations that can help you get involved in fitness.

Finding new motivation

Whether you are a complete beginner, or an experienced athlete, trying to stay motivated is a struggle which many of us will face when trying to focus on exercising and keeping fit.

I had this exact problem when I committed to learning to be a runner at the start of lockdown. After watching countless videos, I felt fully prepared and truly believed that I was going to run nearly every day until I went back to university. Despite, all of this preparation, after two weeks I was already back to sitting inside and making false claims that I would go tomorrow or when the weather got better.

The most important factor for me for improving my issues with motivation was finding a schedule and routine that worked for me, especially as I had never run before.

I chose to experiment with new apps online, however, trying a sport or activity you’ve never done before, going on a new route, or even just inviting a friend or family member to come with you when you next exercise can also help motivate you to progress and work on keeping fit.

Overcoming fears and anxieties

Even though focusing on your health and fitness is primarily an individual goal, there are often times where I, as well as many others, feel anxious and self-conscious about other people’s perceptions.

Whether it is the fear of using a piece of gym equipment wrong if you have never been before, or the worry that people are going to laugh at you for being a beginner when you just start running, many of us can often get put off from exercising because of fear of judgement.

A key way to overcome this initially, is to begin exercising at quieter times of the day or week, such as later at night or on a route which is usually less busy. This allows you to gain more confidence until you feel that you can comfortably exercise around other people.

Ultimately though, it is important to note that everyone who exercises or is just beginning to learn has faced struggles or thought about giving up. By learning how to stay motivated and where to begin, you should be able to overcome these problems and enjoy the mental and physical benefits which come with getting fitter.

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