Why is it at this time of year we all go crazy on the “new year new me” mentality? Is it the pressures of social media? Or maybe even pressure from within our friendship circles? Either way, even the best of us can fall prey to these pressures and although this burst of new motivation is brilliant, it should be ridden like a paddle boarder, slow, even and steady- As opposed to a body surfer, who catches the wave until it dies out and becomes non-existent…
Anyone who has exercised throughout their life knows motivation can come along as quickly as it disappears. So what is the real secret to motivation that lasts? The answer my friends; Habit-formation. Habits are automatic actions triggered by context. In other words, repetition of healthy lifestyle behaviours should be practiced until they become effortless and ingrained into routine. Studies have shown that once habits are formed they persist even after motivation becomes a distant memory. This growing literature shows that implementing simple healthy habits in conjunction with existing habits has good results. For example, you might like to put your new morning walk around the block immediately after breakie, an act or habit you already perform daily…So tack on a new habit with an existing one and repeat until it starts to happen effortlessly!
Although it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying everything at once when motivation strikes, small gradual changes are better and more sustainable. As Physios, we tend to A LOT of overload injuries at this time of year. Loading is determined by the volume, movement type, intensity and frequency of an exercise. It might be the beginner runner who runs 15km in their first hit out or the newbie gym-junkie who hits the gym five times per week to kick start the year – off a base of zero. While our bodies are amazing units and can adapt and strengthen in response to load, there is such thing as too much too quick. Load management and strengthening is incredibly important for injury prevention. Progressive loading and strength is gained over time. We need to respect our bodies and give them the time to adapt and change. Drip feeding small habits into your daily life over time is the key to make sustainable change and prevent injury.
Physiotherapists can help with all of the above! - Both injury management and prevention. If you’re looking to get moving and increase your level of activity this year or have a particular (and challenging) goal in mind, come in and chat to one of our Studio Physio’s. We are here to help you implement and sustain safe and enjoyable movement for life (not just February)!
Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice. Br J Gen Pract. 2012 Dec; 62(605): 664–666.