13 ways to carry on your healthy habits as life gets busy again

Let our solid lineup of PTs offer their top tips for making your new workout routine a habit.

The NHS’ Couch to 5km app had over a million downloads in March last year. Many seem to be sweating their way through the UK lockdowns, partly because, in a year that’s pushed our mental health to its limits, exercise is a really good stress relieverBut, question: have you started to worry about that exercise motivation dwindling as things go back to normal this week? 

Short answer, yes. New research this week from Microsoft Surface has found 68% of women are concerned that they’ll lose the positive changes they made during lockdown as restrictions ease this week.

You may even already be sidelining your newfound workout habits and routines as you book in dinner dates, drinks at rooftop bars and all-important hairdresser appointments.

Sound familiar? Yep, we thought it might.

Don’t stress. It’s pretty normal for workout motivation to come and go, but we’ve got a solid lineup of PT’s to offer their top tips for making your new workout routine a habit

Keen to build a workout routine that actually works for you, around work, childcare and normal day-to-day? Then keep reading.

13 hacks for exercise motivation, from personal trainers

1. Be realistic with your time

This one’s the most basic, but it’s important. Don’t overbook yourself – it’s much better to be realistic with your time, or so says Lillie Bleasdale of PASSA.

“If you know you can comfortably fit in two 30 minute sessions per week, then aim for this,” she explains. “Starting gradually, rather than beginning with booking in too many sessions and skipping them, will help to make you feel like you’re sticking to a plan and accomplishing your initial goal.”

Feeling like you’re reaching your goals weekly, rather than falling short of them, is important.

2. Get creative

Again, if you really feel like you don’t have time to workout, remember, a workout can be as simple as just moving.

“Walk to the station if you’re getting back to a commute, slip in a walk during your lunch break if you can, or get your workout done while watching the latest episode of your favourite TV programme,” recommends Bleasdale. Small wins.

3. Remember, movement is movement

Not every session or exercise has to be 100% effort, Bleasdale shares. Movement is movement, and walking is just as beneficial for your overall health as smashing a sweaty Joe Wicks YouTube workout.

“By combining one or two more intense sessions a week with general movement – think getting up from your desk every hour, adding in a daily lunchtime walk, or jumping on the bike to get to the station rather than getting in the car – you can still make big moves towards those goals,” the PT explains. Hear, hear.

13 ways to carry on your healthy habits as life gets busy again

4. Ask for flexibility

Feeling overwhelmed and like there just simply isn’t enough time to get any sweat sessions in weekly? Flexible working is here to stay, so it’s worth you talking to your manager about making time for your mental health.

“While you may be required to go back to the office, try speaking to your manager about the idea of having some more flexible hours,” advises Bleasdale. “Could you take a 90 minute lunch break if you start 30 minutes early or finish 30 minutes later? Perhaps you could make up some extra time during the week so you can finish early on a Friday?,” she shares.

Think of it this way: if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

5. Remind yourself that working out is a form of self love

Taking time for yourself and practicing self-love is important, shares Sammy Harper, founder and head trainer of Blitz By Harper. “How can you give to anyone else if you’re running on zero?,” she asks.

Try and reframe your workout time each day. Approaching it from a positive, rather than a negative headspace, is key.

Rather than saying ‘I have to workout’, say, ‘I get to workout’.

“Taking 30 or so minutes every day will not only boost your confidence, but it’ll give you energy and focus,” she shares.

6. Find yourself an accountability partner

This might seem simple, but is one of the easiest ways to find exercise motivation. “Sharing your goals with someone and even booking in workouts together is a game changer to help you keep on track,” explains Harper.

Think about it – if you’ve agreed to meet someone at 7am for a workout, you’re far more likely to get up and go. Holding each other accountable will give you easy motivation to get up and go when you’re really lacking.

Exercise motivation: A woman checking her fitness tracker

7. Remove the barriers

Panicking about fitting in the gym, a commute, a working day, and, well, relaxing, too? Make things easier for yourself and stick to home workouts, recommends Openfit LIVE trainer Alasdair Fitz-Desorgher.

“Remove the dread of dragging yourself out of bed and down to the gym by taking your classes online. Virtual fitness removes our biggest barrier – inconvenience,” he explains. “You only need to move from home office to your workout space, or from your bed to log into Zoom, roll out your yoga mat, and you’re good to go. Plus, you’ll choose from hundreds of quality classes with elite trainers at a fraction of the cost of a gym membership.”

Our guides to the best free home workouts and the best no kit home workouts can help with that.

8. Try real-time, real life, in-ear coaching

Again, if you’ve hit a bit of an exercise motivation wall, know that there are new high tech ways you can boost your workout mojo from home. Like? “Live classes with a real trainer can be a great motivator,” Fitz-Desorgher shares.

Plus, he explains, if you opt for live Zoom workouts, the PT can see you and monitor your form, to make sure you’re doing everything safely and correctly. And they can give you an extra push when you need it.

9. Remember your why

Again, this one’s simple but very important. “We’re all going to be tested when lockdown eases – busy schedules will return, family and social commitments will (fingers crossed!) rocket. So, my top tip is to remember your why,” explains Openfit trainer Natalie Edwards.

She recommends digging deep to ask yourself why you workout. Is it to feel mentally strong? To look physically good? Or to build a body that enables you to look after your children? Whatever it is, make sure you’ve got it at the forefront of your mind, so whenever exercise motivation is low, you know what to fall back on.

10. Diarise your workouts

“Just like you’d schedule a work meeting, or nursery pick up, be sure to diarise your workouts. Book ahead to make yourself accountable,” advises Edwards.

Top tip: sit down at the start of each week and scheduling your workouts into your calendar, when you’ll realistically have time. This will help you make your workouts become routine, rather than sporadic.

11. Put your fitness goals into the hands of the experts

Say you’ve been doing YouTube workouts for the last year. Ask yourself this: might you have more exercise motivation if you’re following a new fitness plan or programme? Founder of Beach Body on Demand Autumn Calabrese reckons so.

“My best piece of advice is to have a plan or programme to follow,” she shares. “You’re not a fitness and nutrition expert, and that’s ok—you’re not supposed to be. Leave the planning to the experts. That way you know you’re working smart on our return to normality, and in a way that will lead to results.”

12. Find a workout that works for you

Sounds simple, will be the difference between you sticking to a workout routine in the long term and binning it altogether.

“Not only are you trying to juggle your work commitments, but you’re likely looking after children (and yourselves) and trying to have a social life,” shares Harper. Say you have ten minutes every morning. Make sure you’re using those ten minutes to move your body in a way you enjoy, and you’ll find yourself wanting to get those workouts in.

13. Always have a plan B

Let’s say you’ve planned an outdoor run, but, being honest, it’s miserable and you can’t face the wind and rain. “This is where having a plan B is important,” shares Calabrese.

“With so many apps available now, and thousands of on-demand classes to scroll through, you can jump into any type of workout you’re after, from cardio to HIIT, boxing to barre, even a stretching class, during your allotted training time. Whatever your schedule, know that you can stay on track,” she explains.

Exercise motivation, sorted.