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You start the week with big plans and great expectations – you’ll hit the gym every other night, eat healthy, cycle to work and go to bed early every night. Then you go to bed late or one of your kids is home sick and you don’t have time to fit it in any more. Before you know it, one thing has led to another and you’re heating up a ready meal to eat in front of the telly hours after you planned to be asleep.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be like this. Instead of taking an all-or-nothing approach, small changes and habits that build up can lead you to a healthier life in the long run.

Take smaller steps

If you’ve struggled with motivation in the past, consider lowering your mental requirements. Instead of forcing yourself into an all-or-nothing approach by trying to work out for an hour or more, aim for ten minutes a day. In a week where you run for ten minutes a day, you’ve done more exercise than in a week where you ran for an hour on Monday and then didn’t get round to it for the rest of the week.

Taking smaller steps gives you less excuses for not following through. You’ve always got time for ten minutes! And every success activates the reward centres in the brain, leading to increased motivation meaning you’re more likely to hit your next target as well. By the time you’ve done a whole week of “ten minutes a day” you’ve already made significant progress towards building a new, healthy habit, whereas if you only worked out on Monday, then by Sunday you’re back to square one.

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Start home training

Investing in a treadmill or a home gym sounds like a big commitment, but it’s a one-off fee. If you’re paying $50 a month for a gym membership then in just 5 months a $250 treadmill will pay for itself.

It’s all about making things easier for yourself. With equipment in your home, a half-hour workout only needs to take half an hour – not an hour and a half after the commute’s factored in. And if you’re staying at home you can squeeze it in whilst dinner cooks or whilst the kids are getting ready for school. No need for a babysitter if you’re not leaving the house.

Training on a treadmill vs training with weights

As we talked about before, strength training can be a great way to make yourself more independent and physically resilient. It also helps you burn calories faster, since your body will continue to burn calories at an increased rate for up to 48 hours after exercise as it regenerates and rebuilds the muscle, whereas in a cardiovascular workout your body will only have increased calorie burn whilst you are actually doing the exercise.

But it all comes back to motivation again. Which activity are you more likely to enjoy? Picking an exercise you will enjoy (or at least not hate) will mean you’re more likely to follow through and keep building those healthy habits. Whether that’s strength training, cardio, yoga, pilates, powerlifting or just turning on the stereo and dancing your heart out – there’s something out there for everyone, and with the power of home equipment and internet tutorials you can make it work for you.