Nobody ever decides to quit doing sports. It just ends or slowly becomes more and more rare and eventually sinks to an embarrassing level. The reason is always the same: a break.
A small, innocent pause can kick off a year-long slacking off period meant to last originally either a week or two, after which you'd pull yourself together again. The reason may have been summer holiday, flu, travel, work commitments, kids or a backache.
The break is always fatal. Already a week's idleness starts to push a person towards more comfortable choices. The further the pause stretches, the harder it is to get back in the saddle.
Sure, there are also those who don't take breaks or who just decide to continue where they left off.
There are those who embark on their fifth jog of the week even on Christmas Eve if that's part of the plan. However, only few people have been blessed with such steely determination. The rest of us have to train the mind with resilient perseverance, as a sporty lifestyle never starts by accident. "Slowly getting active" goes to the same league of empty promises as the slimming diet starting on Monday.
When facing a new beginning, one should therefore choose a clear strategy.
I recommend one of the following: 1. Create routines. 2. Set a goal. 3. Find such an enjoyable sport that you would do it even without the benefits.
Routines are the saving grace of a weak human being. The times for doing sports should be written beforehand on the calendar, with a marker. Morning yoga, evening jog, Friday tennis. No excuses. When routines are learned in the beginning, even when forced, at some point they become automatic.
Every sports trainer compels you to set goals. However, everyone does not need to run a marathon but can use creativity instead in setting the goal. A more humane option is a list of everyday goals, such as being able to touch the floor with your hands while your legs remain straight, and to walk to the eighth floor without panting. For preventing exhaustion immediately after commencing, it's good to chop the goal into suitable parts.
And the price waiting at the finishing line needs to be something awesome.
Enjoyable sport might sound like an exaggeration for some but the key really is persistence in trying out different types of sports. Good company for doing sports might also be crucial.
When talking about sports, the word "enjoyable", however, needs to be defined critically. Most activities are actually alright, especially after the performance. But doing sport as a hobby requires it to be so cool that even after a day's work, it attracts you more than chocolate and sofa. If such sport is difficult to find, one should concentrate on strategy options 1 and 2.
Doing sport is most efficient if one can tick all three boxes.
Laura Grönqvist – HS
Mari Storpellinen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva