Do you find that you don’t have the time to get into shape? Do you find it impossible to work up the energy to exercise after work? Workouts at home (like anything) have their strengths and weaknesses- you don’t have to spend money on gym memberships and you have access to comfort and home resources too, but maintaining the energy when surrounded by familiar sights can be that much harder. This guide will give you some little tips and tricks to help you focus on your fitness routine and avoid the urge to procrastinate. With many of us working remotely, exercising at home may be the answer we’re looking for if we can get the ball rolling.
Overcoming the big excuses
One of the biggest hurdles that we face when it comes to home exercise is working up motivation. When we are at home, we’re surrounded by familiar comforts so it’s easy to get distracted by other things- perhaps you experience your thoughts drifting to I should put a wash on before I start, or I’ve already worked hard today at the office, so I think I’ve earned some rest. Try to remember that these options aren’t going anywhere- you can relax after you’ve worked through your at-home routine and still reap the benefits completely guilt-free.
You could even implement some of your chores into the mix if the workout life balance is difficult for you- use the time that your washing is spinning as a guideline for how long you want to focus on a circuit. This way you are setting clear guidelines for yourself whilst keeping your exercise routine at the forefront of your mind.
The 5-second rule
As simple as it sounds, sometimes the best solution is to just do it- no time to think or feel any way about it. Don’t get me wrong I know how this sounds, but there is science behind it. The 5-second rule method suggests that the key is to act immediately (or within the five-second window) to stop your mind from wandering towards other options.
Quick decisions are often emotional, we don't think about the context- we simply move. Our usual methods are much slower and tend to weigh up the risks before we act, which can make it hard to avoid procrastination. The key is to rely on the parts of the brain that let us act fast and efficiently without giving our minds the chance to slow us down.
Plan for what you want to achieve
The World Health Organisation states that we should aim for approximately 150 minutes of moderately intensive exercise a week to keep us healthy, but if you are aiming to lose weight or change up your look then you will want to double this.
When we think about what areas we want to improve it’s useful to make a game plan. Consider the four main pillars (strength, mobility, flexibility, and endurance) to help you decide on what you want to do on different days.
By focusing on a specific area in each routine you give your body a chance to heal and make your routines more engaging. For example, if you wanted to focus on building muscle first and foremost, you could create a set to start and end your week with, such as stomach crunch, back raises, and lunges. Then sprinkle in routines focused on other areas throughout the rest of the week to keep things interesting and give your muscles a rest.
Deciding on the frequency ahead of time is also a fundamental step. This means you can adapt to your usual routines and work around what you already know. If you set up your goals ahead of time it can make it convenient to track your progress throughout the week.
Work with what you know
If the thought of sticking to a workout routine by your lonesome isn't motivating you enough, then maybe invite some friends to join in..
Research has found that you are more likely to keep up your workouts if you make it into a social activity. This way you can keep up a competitive nature with those around you, pushing yourself to work that little bit harder.
It’s important to be realistic when you make plans. If you are trying to fit exercise around work and family, be sure to let your family know. This way they can make sure you stick to your routine and avoid distraction when you are trying to focus. You could even include your family in your routine to turn a distraction into a strength.
Little cheat tactics
There are a bunch of little tricks you can use to pepper exercise throughout your day, which can be useful if you find that one big window of exercise just doesn’t appeal to you.
- Make your chores count towards your exercise- it can be surprising just how intensive some chores are, so try using this to your advantage. Maybe try performing a chore at a higher intensity than you usually would, like working outside in the garden. Completing jobs that were already on the to-do list but with a little extra consideration for working our bodies and minds at the same time.
- Getting up and moving around at times you usually wouldn’t- maybe during an ad break or waiting for the kettle to boil, take a quick trip or two up the stairs to incorporate a little extra exercise into your day. Maybe when you’re on a call with work or a family member you can try to keep moving until the call ends. It’s surprising just how much good these little extra steps can do.
- If working out on specific days doesn’t fit into your schedule, then you could always try implementing a point system. Score a certain amount of points throughout the day through exercise so no matter what comes your way you can adapt what you need. For example, if the goal is 150 points, then a set of 10 squats equals 25 points, push-ups could be 30 points and burpees could be worth 50. If you aim to score points you provide a goal without restricting yourself to a small window of activity, letting you adapt to your day as it happens.
- Choose exercises that you actually enjoy to make the experience more pleasant so you feel more up for trying again- no one says that the exercises you do have to make you miserable, in fact you are far more likely to stick to a routine if you can find enjoyment in it.
- Go at your own pace- Many people make the mistake of pushing themselves too hard too early, so you end up burning out and losing the motivation to continue. Be patient with yourself, start small, and work your way up to the progress is steady.
Simple reminders can make all the difference
Placing little triggers in your environment can help to bolster your resolve. By leaving little memory joggers around your home, you can prompt your brain to recall more frequently. Since one of the biggest hurdles is battling the comfort that comes with home, reminding ourselves about our commitments can be a good way to get the ball rolling. If you start to purchase little pieces of equipment here and there (Bamae’s got you covered) and place them in areas that are hard to ignore then it can make all the difference in actually getting up and going.
Be patient with yourself
Many of us give up quickly because we don’t see any progress and start to feel frustrated. It’s not that there aren’t any changes per se- but as with many aspects of life, it’s gradual. If you miss a day’s work out or feel disheartened, remember to be kind to yourself. These things take time, and old habits can be hard to change, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and stick to it. Keep your goals at the forefront of your mind, and eventually, you will see the fruits of your labour.
Caroline Roberts (2019) How to create an exercise routine you’ll actually stick to, Cnet, online, available: https://www.cnet.com/health/fitness/how-to-start-an-exercise-routine/
Chloe Grey, Strength training: how to create home workouts, Stylist, online, available: https://www.stylist.co.uk/fitness-health/workouts/how-to-create-home-workout-plan/449825
Lawrence Robinson (2020) How to start exercising and actually stick to it, Helpguide, online, available:https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/how-to-start-exercising-and-stick-to-it.htm#