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Does exercise improve your mental health?
Building a fitness habit can sound like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! There are simple steps you can take to achieve your goals and gain better overall fitness. 
 
One thing to remember when venturing into the fitness world is that it’s “not one size fits all”. Our bodies are different and we all work in different ways. We also have different goals. There’s enough pressure to look a certain way as it is - we don’t want to add to that. The most important thing is that you are healthy, feel good and are content with yourself. 
 
If you want to develop a fitness habit but don’t know where to start, follow the tips below and they might get you on the way. 

1. Have a ritual or routine 

Building a habit doesn't just happen overnight. We need to program our brains for it. This is true of good and bad habits. It’s something that has been written about numerous times but most popularly in the James Clear book Atomic Habits
 
In it he provides a number of ways to stick to habits that you want to keep. Those ones you know are beneficial but which are hard to stick to. This is usually because they don’t provide immediate pleasure or reward. 
 
Starting simple and making things easier are two ways of getting to that habit quicker. One of the best ways of making it easier is having a routine. If you do something regularly and stack a few different tasks it should start to become second nature. 
 
This is why a lot of people workout in the morning. But it’s not as simple as saying to yourself that’s what you’re going to do. Try putting out your workout clothes the night before and having a simple getting ready routine before going. 
 
Rewarding yourself with a treat afterwards, before work is a great way of fitting it into your day. 

2. Remind yourself why you’re doing it 

A great way to get in the mood to work out is by reminding yourself why you’re doing it in the first place. You sometimes need a bit of encouragement to do the difficult thing. 
 
If you can see yourself at the gym, achieving your goals, you’ll be more likely to see it through. Whatever your goals are, having this in mind when you start to have second thoughts, will help you get over the line. 
 
What’s the bigger picture? 
 
It may just be that you know you’re going to feel terrific afterwards. Most people that workout regularly report higher levels of happiness and satisfaction. A post workout feeling is usually one of satisfaction that you have achieved something and challenged yourself. This does wonders for your self esteem. If nothing else, let this be what you remind yourself of when you can’t be bothered. 
Chart showing mental health increase

3. Set attainable goals 

It’s important to set attainable goals and to start where you’re at. Having an enormous goal can make you feel like you are not good enough if you don’t achieve it the first time, further discouraging you from going further. 
 
Attainable goals are still challenging but they are realistic and achievable. They can be quick wins, that you can get to in a short space of time. Start as small as you need to. This could be anything from finishing a workout class to doing 20 minutes on a treadmill. 
 
Setting achievable goals will help you overcome bigger ones because it will build your confidence. As you see improvements and results, the encouragement will spur you on to keep going. 
 
A great way to keep on top of what you are doing is by tracking your workouts. This can help you understand where you are going wrong, what you enjoy and dislike and what is working and what isn’t. 
 
Not only that but this can also be a key part of the routine we mentioned above. 

4. Make your workouts enjoyable 

If you don’t enjoy it, you’re a lot less likely to do it. If it makes you miserable, then sooner or later, there’ll be more reasons to not do it. You may never love it, which is why we mentioned remembering the bigger picture above, but there are ways you can make it enjoyable. 
 
There are many ways to do this from finding a workout buddy to listening to your favourite tunes or a podcast whilst you do it. 
 
Finding someone to work out with is a great way to build morale and help with positive assimilation when working out. It can boost your willingness to go in the first place, knowing that someone else is challenging themself too. They may even challenge you and inspire some healthy competition. 
 
But mainly it’s just nice to have someone to talk to and share the experience with. If you don’t have someone to go to the gym with, some gyms have a great pre-existing community that you can become a part of. CrossFit gyms in particular are great for this (we wrote about this on our CrossFit blog), but Pilates classes, Spinning and other training sessions can also provide that support and camaraderie. 
 
Another way to make workouts enjoyable is to switch them up. Doing the same thing over and over again can get boring very quickly so look for ways of making it different each week. You can find great workouts online and fitness influencers often share new ideas and inspiration. 

Have a happy workout 

A tip that might seem obvious but is actually quite hard to do is making your posts engaging. When posting you want to give your audience a way to interact with you. 
 
This can be done by asking them questions, going on live streams, answering comments, inviting them to message you and just generally making it a two way relationship. 
 
This can help to boost your engagement too. 
 
Another way to make your posts engaging is to use quality photos. Get a professional photographer if you can. This will make all the difference as people will quickly dismiss someone with amateur photography. 
 
You can also stand out by having your own unique style, content or design on your posts. Not everyone can afford to get professional graphic design but with tools like Canva available, it’s easier than ever to create good looking graphics. This way you can get your info out there in style. 
 
Having engaging content is a must when it comes to social media because there is so much out there, you want to make sure that your content doesn't get lost in the crowd. 
 
A great way to find out what works well is to take a look at the leaders in your field. Study them and see what posts get the most engagement, then replicate that for yourself. 
 
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