One of the few positives of lockdown has been that many of us were able to slow down our schedules enough to commit to a regular exercise routine.

It became an opportunity to take on a daily HIIT class, do PE with Joe Wicks, run at lunchtime, or simply start the day with a gentle online yoga class.

How to keep up good fitness habits

As the pressures of normal life start to return though, it can be all too easy to fall back into old patterns and let good new habits slip. Here are some top tips for staying motivated…

1. Set yourself a challenge

Fitness challenges are a great way to stay accountable and keep working towards a goal. Although the future of physical marathons and other fitness events is still up in the air, there are plenty of digital challenges you can attempt instead.

It could be as simple as seeing how long you can hold a plank each day as part of the popular Instagram #plankchallenge, or signing up to a meatier virtual race – like RunThrough’s virtual 5K, 10K and marathons.

Take a cue from hardcore runners and commit yourself to something early, so you have no excuses to skip your training sessions over the next few months.

2. Commit to waking up earlier

As we start physically heading back into our workplaces, it can become much harder to squeeze in a pre-work workout. It might not be enjoyable, but waking up an hour earlier could ensure your workout isn’t derailed by meetings, deadlines or the commute.

But be realistic too. The all-or-nothing approach is common with exercise, and lots of us have thrown ourselves into daily workouts. As your diary starts to fill up, it might be more sustainable to cut back on a few of your sessions, and slowly ease yourself into a new routine so you don’t experience burnout.

3. Track your progress

Happy athletic woman measuring heart rate on smart watch while resting after exercising at home.

Many of us begin new workout routines with the intention of reaching specific goals, and data can be a huge motivator. Whether you run, box, jump, stretch or skip, seeing your improvement is a great way to stay on top of your fitness goals.

If you’ve saved a bit of extra cash over lockdown, you could treat yourself to a fitness watch, or there are lots of smartphone apps that can tell you basic stats like pace and distance. Try Strava and Nike Training Club for coaching tips and a breakdown of your performance.

4. Don’t overload your diary

Once the world returns to its usual hustle and bustle, you don’t have to go back to burning the candle at both ends. If you’ve enjoyed living a healthier, quieter lifestyle, be selective with your social calendar and make time for recovery.

Prioritise rest days, give yourself adequate time to catch up on sleep and listen to when your mind and body feels overwhelmed. Habit tracker apps like Momentum are great for sticking to healthy routines like exercising, drinking enough water and meditating.

5. Workout with friends

Now we’re allowed to meet up with people in a socially distanced manner, working out with a pal is a fun way to stay accountable. Not wanting to let your exercise partner down can be the push you need to show up and sweat.

Plus, exercising with a friend who’s around the same fitness level as you can fire up your competitive spirit and push you to work that little bit harder.

6. Try new things

Fitness habits Take up cycling

Cross-training is a great way to condition your body, develop a new set of skills and reduce the boredom of drilling through the same living room workout on auto-pilot.

If you’ve spent the last few months running, you could switch up your routine by trying a boxing session with a friend – or take up cycling to give your leg muscles an aerobic workout without the impact that comes with pounding the pavements.

Read more: 4 essential post-workout stretches you should do after exercise

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