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Sticking with exercise through life's ups and downs


The long list of benefits associated with exercise are well known.  A sustainable approach to exercise can take many forms and ultimately is geared to improving the quality of our lives.  Certain types of exercise can be particularly important for our health and fitness needs over the long term.

The challenge can be to stick to an approach over the long term, especially through life’s up and downs that can cause potential obstacles.

Initial motivation can drop, work schedules can become overwhelming, injuries and illnesses may occur and the dark, cold winter months can seem less appealing.

However, despite this, there are a number of ways to keep exercising when life becomes challenging.

Understanding the reason why we are exercising is an important factor.  Rather than just having a general goal, we are more likely to stick to an exercise program if we identify the positive impact it has on how we feel when and after we move – such as increased energy and reduced stress.

For us to stick to a program of exercise it needs to add value to our lives.  Additionally, it’s important to see progress and feel satisfied that the exercise approach being followed is providing positive changes.

Remember that exercise programs should be focused on your needs.  When designing your approach to exercise, it needs to work for you.

Unrealistic approaches that aren’t practical for your life, such as training too many times a week, won’t work.  It could start to become a burden and an obligation as opposed to something to look forward to, and something  that improves how you feel and enables you to achieve your goals.

It helps to plan out a routine that can be maintained, provides enough rest and fits with work and family life.  Also, if it’s planned, there’s no need to procrastinate and think whether or not to exercise when the time to exercise comes.

Be Aware that Context is Relevant

It’s great to see progress but if you’ve had a stressful day and then not performed to your usual level when exercising, it doesn’t mean that you’ve lost fitness.  Instead it just means that your body is tired at that moment and may benefit from an adapted, steadier routine that day.  Feeling obliged to perform at a set level each time, negatively effects performance and can be de-motivating.

Being Resourceful and Adaptable with Exercise

Exercise programs can be adapted to suit any fitness/ability level and can be performed in many different environments such as at home, at the gym or outside as examples.  Home training can be very useful, especially with people’s busy lifestyles.  It’s possible, through bodyweight exercises to work the entire body.  All that is needed is a little bit of space.

Resistance and Balance Training

Resistance training is the best way to increase muscle in the body, which is especially useful as we age. This structurally strengthens the body and increases metabolism due to muscle having high energy requirements.  Balance exercises are also particularly useful to incorporate, especially as we age.  It doesn’t need to be complicated.  In fact, bodyweight can be used in many ways to improve balance effectively.

Illness and Injury

If you’re not feeling well, it’s best to rest.  You don’t want to feel obliged to exercise when it’s not going to do you any favours.  Equally, when injured, it’s best to be patient, see the physio and return to exercise at the right time. It’s a lot easier to move forwards than backwards.

Technology can be Useful but not Essential

It’s useful to get feedback from technology and to set targets but on the flip side it can become habitual to have rigid targets that may not serve your needs.  Instead, adapting exercise to meet your needs is a more accurate approach.


If the weather is bad, perhaps train at home or at the gym. Equally, if the weather is great, training outside or in the garden works well.

Exercise and movement are great ways to improve health and fitness.  Life has its up and downs, twists and turns but there are many ways to keep moving when obstacles or perceived obstacles come our way.  Exercise and movement can be adapted over the short and long term to suit our needs and improve our quality of life in many ways.




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