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Get fit with a tiny exercise routine

Are you planning drastic, far-reaching new year’s resolutions? Stop! Making tiny (almost stupidly tiny) changes will be more lasting in the long run. Oliver Burkeman tells you how

by Psychologies

start by doing a tiny amount of exercise

One big advantage of mini-habits is how they sneak beneath the mind’s radar, evading our inbuilt tendency to resist change.

If you’ve never been running, a goal of a mile a day is too intimidating, and will trigger procrastination; a goal of 30 seconds a day, on the other hand, is laughable – and what’s laughable can’t also be scary.

‘In school, when I was trying to acquire the habit of running, I ran down the street until I’d passed just three houses, then I turned back,’ says Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (Harper, £6.99) and a forthcoming book on habits, Better Than Before (Two Roads, £16.99, to be published in March 2015). ‘After a few runs like that, I ran past four houses. Over time, I worked up to a few miles. Taking small steps helped me to keep running long enough to make a habit of it.’

Research suggests people stick to moderate exercise plans longer than more vigorous ones.

Alternatively, try SaluteTheDesk.com (£2.49), an app encouraging yoga stretches at work.

More inspiration:

Sign up for our Life Labs Practical Wisdom online course Achieve Your Goals here

Read Make one change happen by Vanessa Anstee on LifeLabs

Read 5 ways to feel more balanced, every day by Eminé Ali Rushton on LifeLabs

Photograph: iStock

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