Forming habits and keeping you healthy

Welcome to West London Physiotherapy’s January newsletter

Returning to our physio clinic in Kensington W8 in January it’s fun to hear of our patient’s New Year health resolutions; getting fit, losing weight, or dealing with a long ignored pain. But unfortunately by February most have returned to old habits. To make this year different below are some great tips to help keep you on track.

Successfully building a new habit is essential to improve your health, with good health habits a consistent feature among those who remain strong, flexible and fit throughout life. A patient of ours is a great example. Over 80, he can still perform 30 consecutive push-ups and is in incredible shape. His secret? 10 minutes of body weight exercise each day. He occasionally misses a day, but he never misses two. He keeps it simple and as a result has a sustainable exercise habit that keeps him balanced, flexible and strong. If you’d like a similar routine made for you, contact us to arrange [].

So to help improve your health and stay on track with your New Year resolutions, I’ve outlined 5 ways to ensure your good habits remain.

1. Start small, start easy: Willpower fatigues and motivation is influenced by external influences in life which are beyond our control. Habits are less likely to form when the challenge requires a long period of motivation. So while we should harness motivation to kick start a new habit, the trick is to ensure you stay on track when motivation wanes. Breaking challenges into smaller chunks helps to do this. If you’re aim is to run 5km four times per week, you’re more likely to be doing it at year end if you start out at 1km twice per week, and add 1km per week until you hit your target.

2. Prioritise. A new habit should go in the diary for 3 months. It’s the biggest reason why personal trainers get great results. You’ve booked a time. You can get similar results by simply booking exercise in your diary. The aim may be to perform 50 push ups. Put the alert in your phone, start small, increase slowly, and you’ll see incredible gains within weeks.

3. Play a long game. The aim is to be healthy in 12 months, 2 years, or 10 years time. Start slow and gradually, and you’ll still be amazed how much change occurs after only a month. 1% improvements each day accumulate to almost a 40% improvement over 12 months. But the most important thing is that your habit will have formed, and it won’t feel like an effort to maintain.

4. Measure yourself. What you measure you improve. Keep it simple. How far you can jog without stopping? How many push ups can you do? How fast can you swim a length? Apply the above then re-measure at monthly intervals.

5. Finally we should mention balance. Balance is the key. There is no complex formula to a healthy and well balanced life, but those who succeed tend to adopt a philosophy of moderation. They don’t get hung up on eating superfoods (there aren’t any by the way), but simply aim to eat good food most of the time, in moderate amounts. They incorporate exercise into their life and make it a priority. They don’t get upset if they have a bad week – through illness, injury or circumstance – but make sure the following week is better. They spend time with their family and friends. They accept that life often disrupts plans, but in any case still aim to make a priority of things that are important but not urgent – exercise, relationships, health. They don’t kill themselves trying to be healthy, but have instead developed simple life habits that lead to good health.

Hopefully those insights help you to keep your new year resolutions on track. If we can help in any way to achieve your goals, we’d love to hear from you. We have been working as physiotherapists, providing expert physio to patients in Kensington W8 for many years, and continue to have a passion for keeping people active.

All the best for 2015