At the end of each decade, we look back over the past ten years and the trends, fashions, and culture that will be memorialized with the decade. Undoubtedly, the 2010s will be associated with the rise of smart devices, the increasing influence of social media on our social systems, athleisure, hipsters, streaming services, memes, superheroes, gentrification, and avocado toast. But one trend I find that is less talked about is the rise of recreational fitness.
This may come as a surprise initially, but you’ve likely noticed the increasing number of specialty fitness centers such as rock-climbing gyms, yoga studios, or CrossFit centers, and the rise of chain fitness centers like Planet Fitness, Anytime Fitness, and Orangetheory Fitness to name a few. In fact, according to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association, the number of health club members in America has increased over the past decade by nearly 33%, from 45 million to over 60 million.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that the number of adults meeting federal exercise standards has increased from 18% to 24% in the same time period. Experts suggest this trend is likely to continue as the awareness of exercising health benefits and fitness accessibility continues to increase in our society.
If this is the year you commit, how do you ensure your fitness habits will stick?
Research suggests that the best way to stick with a new habit (or break a bad habit) is to make it as convenient (or inconvenient) as possible. For example, bring all your gym clothes to work so you can hit the gym easily on the way home or throw out all your junk food and cancel your food delivery service accounts.
To help us all achieve our fitness goals in 2020, let’s take a look at the three most common reasons people don’t exercise more, and how to overcome them.
- “I don’t have the time/it’s inconvenient”
High-Intensity Interval Training
The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. That’s 21 minutes per day of moderate-intensity exercise or 11 minutes per day of vigorous-intensity exercise. In general, the harder you work, the less time you need to spend exercising.
If you’re strapped for time, try high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is a form of exercise that focuses on maintaining a high heart rate using quick bursts of short exercises for 10-20 minutes at a time with minimal rest. You can find a plethora of different HIIT routines online focusing on different parts of your body. In just four or five sessions per week, you can hit the recommended exercise requirements and improve your strength and cardio both at the same time.
Exercising Close to Home
If the gym is too far away, bring the gym to you. There are so many activities you can do easily from your own home with minimal equipment, such as:
- Jogging: a pair of shoes and a neighborhood to run around
- Yoga: a yoga mat and free yoga lessons on YouTube
- Bodyweight training: a pull-up bar, some chairs, a floor, and optional exercise bands or dumbbells
- “I don’t have the motivation”
Studies have shown that intrinsic motivation is more indicative of long-term success than external motivation. For example, people are more likely to continue exercising if the goals are aligned to their own health than if their goals reflect things like looking better or fitting into a smaller swimsuit.
Fitness goals can be directly related to your exercise of choice or they can be tangentially related through another goal. If jogging, you can set a time goal for your next race, or if weightlifting, you can set goals related to how much you can lift. There are a number of different goals you can set depending on how you choose to exercise, but it’s important to remember to set SMART goals: goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based.
Alternatively, you can set goals that are not directly related to fitness but require a general level of fitness to achieve. Some examples might be things like hiking the Appalachian Trail, walking the Camino de Santiago, or becoming a certified scuba instructor.
Find a Workout Partner
Studies show that people with workout partners are more likely to continue exercising, push themselves harder, and even have more fun exercising. If you’re having trouble finding a workout partner, don’t worry—there are even apps that help you meet like-minded individuals also looking for a workout partner.
- “I don’t like exercising”
Exercising doesn’t have to be done in your basement or in a gym, there are countless types of exercises that can get you outdoors. To name a few, consider hiking or trail running, kayaking, rock climbing, or mountain biking. Plus, exercising outdoors gives you the added mental health benefits that come with fresh air and sunshine.
Most cities and towns have intramural sports for adults who want to play sports like softball, soccer, or basketball. In addition, most gyms and fitness centers offer classes like spinning, yoga, or Zumba. Getting involved in activities like these can be more fun than running or lifting weights and come with the added benefit of making new friends.
Catch up on Entertainment
If you like to exercise alone, you can even use this time to catch up on your favorite TV shows, movies, audiobooks, podcasts, or streaming channels. If you keep a certain show or channel restricted to only when you exercise, you’ll have something to look forward to on the treadmill than can serve as motivation to exercise on a daily basis.
Make 2020 the year you join in on the fitness craze and make a commitment to yourself and your health. Whatever you do, make sure it’s personal and will keep you coming back for more all year long.