You’re reading Move, the nudge we need to get active, however makes us happiest and healthiest.
There’s something about spring that can tempt even the most reluctant of exercisers to get out and get active. Perhaps it’s the simple joy of sunshine for the first time in months, or the sight of spring blooms signalling new beginnings.
But there’s a big difference between thinking about getting fit and actually doing it. So, how do you harness that vague curiosity and put it into action?
The key is staying motivated and making some positive, practical plans. Here are eight steps to get you started.
1. Remember, there’s no ‘right’ way to get active
If the idea of hitting the gym puts you off, don’t do it, says Kate Dale, the campaign lead for This Girl Can.
“However you lift, stretch, stroll, or sprint, moving on your own terms will mean you stay motivated and get enjoyment from your exercise,” she says. “If it gets your heart rate up, it counts!”
Similarly, fitness guru and entrepreneur Stef Williams (who runs the popular account Stef Fit), says finding a workout that you actually enjoy will make you excited to do it again. Try something that makes you smile, from hula hooping to skipping.
“There is no one size fits all when it comes to movement so it is so crucial to really enjoy what you are doing, and not see it as a chore,” she says. “That way you will build up positive associations with working out and consistency will be much easier. ”
2. Try mindful exercise
Fitness apps and trackers work for some people, but I’m personally happier without them. Instead, I’m a fan of mindful running, where you focus on staying present and taking in your surroundings, instead of getting bogged down about speed and distance.
If you’re lacking motivation, why not give it a try? Put on some comfy trainers and go for a walk to look at the daffodils and blossom in your area. And if that walk turns into a run, amazing! If not, you’ve still had a great walk.
As Williams says: “Exercise doesn’t always have to be goal-oriented. It’s equally important to get outside to enjoy the nice weather, or dance around at home – it’s all about the feeling of getting your body moving.”
3. Follow regular people starting their fitness journeys
Research from Sport England shows that among women who don’t currently
participate in group exercise, over a third (35%) say not feeling fit enough is what puts them off. But remember, everybody starts somewhere.
Try looking for peers online who are in a similar position to you. Following hashtags like #CouchTo5K and #ThisGirlCan will ensure your feed is full of regular people at different stages of their fitness journeys, not just super fit influencers.
4. Get your hay fever in order
A stuffy nose and watery eyes will put you off exercising outdoors. If you’re susceptible to hay fever, ’tis the season to stock up on antihistamines (and these other handy products) now.
5. Give a class a try
There are endless options out there, from group swimming sessions to dance, HIIT, spin, or even mini trampolining!
You could also look out for This Girl Can Classes in your area. The classes, which launched last year, focus on enjoyment rather than ability through fun, low-intensity movement.
“The classes are a welcoming and pressure-free space to empower women who aren’t currently active on a regular basis – or are intimidated to try group exercise – to get active among likeminded people,” explains Dale.
“With a range of exercise styles including dance fitness, boxing fitness, and yoga-inspired stretch, there’s something very everyone, and the instructors have had specialist training to create a warm and welcoming environment.”
6. Celebrate your wins
However big or small, hitting your goals should be celebrated. “Whether it’s walking round the park, swimming ten lengths, or crossing the finish line of a marathon, your goals are personal to you and each one is important,” says Dale.
“Even just getting active again is a win – if the pressure of hitting milestone or goals puts you off, just celebrate the fact you’re moving your body!”
7. Sign up to an event
Once you’ve got into the swing of things, putting an event in the calendar can help with motivation. That might be a 5K or 10K run, a dance workshop, a yoga retreat or something like a Tough Mudder. The key is finding something that excites and motivates you – signing up should not feel stressful.
8. Don’t expect overnight results
Starting to exercise regularly is a huge achievement in itself, so don’t beat yourself up if a session feels hard or doesn’t quite go to plan.
“Don’t give up on the process. Progress takes months, even years, so consistency is key to achieving long-term goals,” says Williams.
“That being said, it is important to set realistic and achievable goals, and most importantly, make sure you listen to your body. It’s better to start slow than do too much too soon, and burn out or injure yourself.”
Move celebrates exercise in all its forms, with accessible features encouraging you to add movement into your day – because it’s not just good for the body, but the mind, too. We get it: workouts can be a bit of a slog, but there are ways you can move more without dreading it. Whether you love hikes, bike rides, YouTube workouts or hula hoop routines, exercise should be something to enjoy.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.