Exercise doesn't have to be so torturous: 5 tips to make fitness easier

As we head into the fall and get back into our established routines, here are some tips to make regular physical fitness an easier and lasting part of your lifestyle.

No magic pill exists, so first swallow the fact that you'll have to work for it

If the thought of running on a treadmill fills your heart with dread, take solace in knowing you're not alone. Then read on for how to make regular physical exercise a little bit easier. (CBC)

Exercise is hard. And doing something that's hard over, and over and over again can be torturous. 

But science also tells us that, at least in this case, it can be good for you.

As we head into the fall and get back into our established routines, here are some tips for the non-masochists out there who are looking to make regular physical activity an easier and lasting part of their lifestyle.

1. Think local

One barrier that's easy to reduce is travel time, suggests fitness coach Geoff Starling, who sat down with The Calgary Eyeopener to share his insight.

"The best place to look is in your local neighbourhood," Starling said.

Inquire at your community centre or in your workplace. Chances are you'll be able to find a gym or a social fitness group nearby that fits your criteria.

2. Tie it to something you already do

Tack your exercise onto an existing activity — like dropping the kids off at school or your morning commute to work — for a "guaranteed path for success," Starling said.

"It's like if you need to take medication during the day, you attach it to having breakfast or brushing your teeth."

This reduces the likelihood that you'll forget to do it. 

Cycling to and from work is one way to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Geoscientist Duncan Findlay has been commuting by bike in Calgary for 5 years. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

3. Buddy up

If "forgetting" to exercise is really more of a deliberate choice than an oversight, stop working out alone.

"Knowing that Geoff is standing at the gym at 6 a.m. waiting for you is a huge motivator to turn up," Starling said.

Depending on your comfort level, that may mean roping in a colleague, family member, neighbour or personal trainer to join you in whatever fitness activity you've chosen.

4. Consider a one-on-one approach

Ultimately, forging a lasting fitness regimen is about finding something that works with your budget, your schedule and your personality. This is where one-on-one training can be helpful, said Starling.

Trainer Tim Martin spots Paula Moors as she works on her incline dumbbell press, part of her personalized training plan at GoodLife Fitness. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

For those who may have had negative experiences with exercise in the past, those working through physical injuries and those who have high mental barriers, personal training may hold the key.

"Having someone lead you through that process or ease you back in, or even for the first time, can be massively helpful," Starling said.

5. Tap into the worldwide community

Fitness trackers and mobile apps are great ways to keep you motivated and track your progress, Starling said. They open you up to online communities of people who are in similar situations to your own. 

"You can set up step challenges with your friends or with people you didn't previously know, but who have similar goals," Starling said.

Here are six fitness tracking devices measuring step counts and other fitness features. Clockwise from top left are the: Garmin Vivoactive, Fitbit Blaze, Garmin Vivoactive HR, Samsung Gear Fit2, Apple Watch and Fitbit Surge. (The Associated Press)

And lastly, stop kidding yourself. Recognize that there's no quick fix and you actually have to work for it.

"There are billions of dollars in industry built on the idea of a magic pill. But really, it requires some hard conversations with yourself, some commitment and some hard work," said Starling.

With files from The Calgary Eyeopener