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Steadily Improve in Physical Fitness by Sustaining Your Momentum

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Everybody knows that it’s important to stay fit as we grow older. When you’re young, your body is naturally healthy, and your metabolism fast enough to offset unhealthy habits. Over the years, however, that margin for error grows thin.

If you grow accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle, you can’t simply exert yourself physically with the intensity of your younger days. There will be aches and pains at least, if not injuries. Thus, the best time to deliberately increase your level of activity was yesterday; the next best time is today.

But even though many people start committing to increased fitness, it’s hard to maintain that momentum. We often get discouraged, encounter roadblocks, or stumble along the way. Gym memberships spike in January, but attendance tapers off in the months after.

How you can avoid slipping back into old ways, and even better, build on what you’re doing to become stronger and healthier?

Make sustainable habits

The first part of keeping up your momentum involves dealing with the things that could slow you down or cause you to stop. And this means you have to prioritize long-term sustainability.

If you push yourself too hard, too soon, you risk getting injured; even professional athletes in top condition see their performance decline as they recover from injuries. The average person is likely to take longer to recover. On top of that, committing to an unreasonably difficult workout routine is going to make it far less enjoyable.

You want to increase your baseline physical activity by doing something that challenges you, but doesn’t make you cringe at the thought of working out. Or wince in pain as you get out of bed the morning after.

Once you’ve identified that ‘sweet spot’, you can work on making it a habit. There are evidence-based strategies that can aid you in habit formation. By tying your exercise routine to existing habits, for instance, you can turn the extra activity into daily behavior. It will help to cement your gains; you won’t have to drain up your willpower resisting the urge to skip a day’s session.

Leveling up

Establishing your routine and sticking with it will prevent you from sliding back into a sedentary lifestyle. But as your body ages, many factors make it difficult to gain further ground. Our metabolic processes slow down significantly, and we tend to lose muscle mass over time. The body also acclimates itself to exertion; it eventually learns to do the same exercise in a more efficient manner.

Fending off the effects of age is like combating inflation in your personal finances. You want your income to increase at an even faster rate. Otherwise you’ll be losing money. With exercise, you need to constantly review what you’ve been doing, and find new ways to increase the difficulty.

If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, don’t give up. There are physical trainers and other professionals who can help design a program and monitor your progress. But you can actually transform this into a fun endeavor by using some principles of gamification.

Video games are addictive because they combine a reasonable level of challenge with a measurable sense of progress, and periodic rewards for your activity. For instance, storytelling, whether in a note-taking app or a crafted scrapbook decorated with circle punch patterns, is a basic form of celebrating your accomplishments and personal records.

You can also create that sense of leveling up in various workout apps, ranging from the staple Fitbit to the more adventurous Zombies, Run! Allow yourself to reflect on your journey from time to time. You’ll appreciate how consistency and effort have paid off.

Making it social

After taking your fitness to the next level through gamification, you will have created significant impetus moving forward. You’re doing something you enjoy, and building up a narrative of your progress.

However, the evolution of video games offers a further lesson in sustaining interest and activity. Over the decades, the best games have evolved to become more social. Today’s gamers aren’t playing alone in their basements; they are coordinating online with friends and strangers alike in clan activities and competing for rankings.

You don’t have to be a pro athlete to enjoy the benefits of healthy competition. Expand your network and find fellow enthusiasts who can reinforce your fitness activity and push you a little more each day. Look for local events you can join.

By integrating exercise into that natural desire for social interaction, it’s not only a sustainable habit, but something off which you can thrive. Even as you age, this momentum will keep your physical fitness routine going strong.

Meta title: How to Maintain Momentum in Your Physical Fitness Journey

Meta description: Committing to physical exercise is essential, but it’s hard to avoid falling back into old habits as we age and the body declines. Here’s how you can build momentum as you go.