Get back in the zone: Tips to put a spring in your step

With warmer weather and longer days not too far away, it’s time to get moving!

Finding fitness motivation in the long, cold winter months can be a challenge – especially after all those comfy nights cuddled up on the couch. These easy-to-follow fitness motivation techniques will get you back into the swing of things by the time we get to Spring.

It's OK to start slow

If it’s been a while since you hit the gym, or did any exercise for that matter, don’t be discouraged. It’s OK to start slow. Start by introducing a 10 minute walk into your day and working up to a more intense 30 to 45 minute workout. 

Crown Towers Melbourne health consultant David Sinigaglia says starting slow is the key to getting back on track.

“The body takes a solid six-to-eight weeks to get used to activity. It also takes six-to-eight weeks to form a habit,” he says.

“Walking is a good activity most people can do, you can also swim, cycle, kick a ball around with your kids, or do gardening or housework – it all counts.

“The key is to aim to use major muscles like your legs and arms and to get your heart and breathing rate up for blocks of ideally 10 minutes at a time. Remember – any movement is better than nothing.”

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Rest your mindset 

Motivation is a finite resource. While everyone’s motivation fluctuates, Sinigaglia says it all starts in the mind.

“Motivation isn't something that just happens to you, but something you create for yourself,” he explains.

“Exercise may be all about moving the body, but you won't get anywhere until you move your mind first. Getting past your mental roadblocks can open the door for new ideas and new attitudes.”

If you’re struggling to find motivation, find someone to give you that extra push to get up and go. A training partner who has similar fitness goals to you can help make exercise more enjoyable, and keep you accountable to showing up and getting it done.

No one to workout with? Join a group activity at the gym, a sporting team or a walking group.

Pump that playlist

While listening to music during a workout isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it’s one of the best ways to get in ‘the zone’. So exactly how does it help?

Music can offer a great escape from day-to-day stress, can instantly change your mood and helps with self-awareness. And the best part? It can be part of your workout no matter where you are.

One study found that the faster the tempo of music, the harder the workout and the more likely you are to push through – even if the body is in perceived ‘pain’.  It’s worth noting here though that muscle burn and exertion is different to troublesome pain – and it’s important to know the difference. If you experience shortness of breath, light headedness, joint pain or chest pain – you should stop exercising immediately and call your doctor. Your GP is a good place to start. 

Eat enough of the good stuff

Say goodbye to warming winter meals and hello to fresh, healthy summer foods in preparation for Spring. Healthy eating and exercise go hand in hand, so fueling your body with the right foods is essential.

“Nuts and seeds are a great source of energy-boosting protein and also magnesium, which plays a big part in converting sugar to energy and increasing blood flow to the brain,” Sinigaglia says.

“Make sure you are eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits, leafy greens, lean meats and fish, lentils and legumes, yogurt and eggs. Your body will thank you for it.”

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Never miss a Monday 

Personal trainers live by this motivational mantra, and with good reason. The beginning of the week is when people are more committed to their health and fitness – making Monday the perfect day to set goals for the week ahead.

“First consider what you want to achieve, and then commit to it,” Sinigaglia says. “Set SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goals that motivate you and write them down to make them feel tangible. Then plan the steps you must take to realise your goal, and cross off each one as you work through them.”