Regular exercise offers physical and psychological health benefits. Yet, only a minority of us exercises regularly. In Singapore, this is a further cause for concern. The 2010 National Health Survey found obesity prevalence to increase at 0.7 per cent annually.

People who don't exercise regularly tend to fall in one of two groups

​The first group consists of people unmotivated to exercise due to various reasons. They are not interested in exercise, do not see the need to, or have other priorities.

Another group starts to exercise, but stops after a while.​ Usually these individuals start to exercise regularly because they feel they “have to” exercise or “must” exercise. They may not truly “want to” exercise. After a while, they stop regular exercise when this “obligation” to exercise begins to feel like a drag to them.

Do you or someone you know belong to either group of people who don’t regularly exercise? Consider these tips from empirical research on regular exercise. Patients at the LIFE Centre, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group, have found them useful.

Tips to help you start exercising

Find per​sonal value in regular exercise

Identify what you hope to get out of exercise. It may be to improve your stamina so that you can hike with your kids. It may be to learn yoga so that you become more agile. It may be to lose weight and look good. Whatever your reason(s), you are more likely to start exercising if you are clear about the benefits you stand to g​et out of it.​

Take a short break before exercise

Simple mental acts such as surfing the internet 10 minutes prior to exercise have been found by research to drain individuals. This decreases the chances of them exercising. Taking a 10​-minute physical and mental break before exercise may actually increase your chances of exercising.

Infuse your mind with exercise imagery

Use various forms of imagery to motivate yourself.

  1. Imagine the new, firmer body you will get from exercising (appea​rance imagery).

  2. Imagine yourself perfecting your exercise technique (technique imagery).

  3. Imagine yourself exercising and deriving great energy from it (energy imagery).

  4. Imagine yourself enjoying your exercise session, having ​fun and thinking it is a pleasurable activity (enjoyment imagery).​

Need help adopting a better lifestyle? The LIFE Centre at Singapore Ge​neral Hospital​ (SGH) has a multidisciplinary team of experts who can provide you with guidance on weight management, exercise and diet.

Read on to find out how to remain motivated to exercise.

Ref: Q15