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September get-fit plans that stick


SKIP THE DULL STUFF Try something new and fun, or even something you used to enjoy as a child.

Fitness and Wellbeing
Paul O'Brien

In exercise surveys and analyses, September is a month that sees a spike in the graph of exercise participation. Many of us think about resuming an exercise routine after a relaxed and somewhat lazy summer.
Unfortunately, as is the case in January, many people will not see their commitment through beyond mid-October. Work, family and social commitments begin to squeeze out the exercise habit. This is mainly because most people come back to exercise with a vaguely conceived plan and little or no strategy to achieve their goals.

Reframe your goal
This is your first objective. Forget about losing that two stone, running the Christmas marathon or whatever else may lie ahead down the track. Your business is with the day-to-day. a
The key to sustainable exercise is habit-forming. It must become as natural to you as brushing your teeth each morning.
To achieve this, set a daily target that you cannot fail to hit. A good place to start is five to ten minutes of exercise. Commit to doing five to ten minutes of some form of exercise daily. After one month, you’ll be in the groove and will have developed a sustainable exercise habit. You may find that you do more than five to ten minutes on some days. No problem, but your target is five to ten minutes. This is easy to achieve, replicable and stress-free.

Experiment and play
The Healthy Ireland Study 2015 reported that only 32 percent of Irish adults meet the minimum requirements for physical activity. Despite increased availability of exercise options, access to facilities and greater levels of government intervention, almost 70 percent of adults are not getting enough exercise to benefit their health.
One major but not often cited reason for this is the fun factor. Engaging in exercise that you find dull or mentally stressful is unlikely to lead to a sustainable exercise habit. Instead, create a sense of play around exercise. Try something new every month. Take up an activity you enjoyed as a child. Join a dance group. Bringing that element of fun to your activity leads to engagement and is closely linked with long-term adherence.

Team up
Social support is another key pillar of exercise adherence. Having a partner or being part of a group adds a social aspect to your exercise. Developing closer ties also brings accountability to your activity.
You could team up with a friend and agree to support one another in sticking with your commitment. Having social support also improves the quality of your relationships, and it’s linked with reduced stress levels and increased happiness levels. All great reasons to connect.

Laying a strong foundation
Regardless of the type of activity you intend to undertake, it’s worth considering a physical check-up when you start. You wouldn’t begin a long journey in your 20-year-old car without ensuring it can last the distance. It’s not worth taking the journey towards sustainable exercise without checking your body’s chassis. Speaking with your GP and receiving a clear bill of health will ensure you don’t begin some form of activity that you are currently not ready for.
A session with a certified personal trainer or sports therapist is also worth considering. You should ask for a physical screening and have a postural analysis done. From these tests, you will receive some corrective exercises that will help set the foundation for sustainable and enjoyable exercise in the season ahead and a healthier future.

> Paul O’Brien is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise since 2007 and a qualified Life, Health & Nutrition Coach. He is co-owner of Republic of Fitness in Westport. He can be contacted on 086 1674515 or rofstudio@gmail.com.

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