Sustaining exercise

It’s likely that you’ll have a high level of enthusiasm when you start your new exercise programme, but this may well diminish in the weeks and months that follow. Exercising can be boring, tiring and uncomfortable. But there are some easy steps you can take to make it easier on yourself:

  • It doesn’t have to be a chore. Nobody is forcing you to do this. Remember, you are doing it because you want to.
  • Remember activities such as walking or cycling to work will count towards your daily exercise, as will using the stairs rather than the lift or escalator.
  • You can also build exercise into your other activities. Dancing and heavy gardening count as exercise.
  • Choose an exercise activity that you enjoy. There’s no point doing something that you don’t like. Similarly, if you are going to a gym, choose one that you feel comfortable using.
  • Set goals that are achievable, and record your progress.
  • Try to prioritise exercise. Don’t treat it as a fringe, optional activity.
  • Try and exercise with other people. Becoming a member of a running, swimming or other sporting club can be a great way of exercising with people. Don’t feel intimidated - there will be members of all abilities.
  • Don’t punish yourself or feel guilty if you miss a session or do less than you hoped. You can always go back another day.
  • Don’t exercise if you are ill or feel unwell. It will probably do you more harm than good.
  • Vary your exercise routine.
  • Allow yourself regular days off. Your body needs time to recover and benefit from exercise. If you’ve been exercising regularly, an annual two-week holiday with no exercise won’t do you any harm at all.

There are lots of tips on choosing and sustaining different types of exercise on the NHS Choices website.

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this section.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.