15/01/2016 05:31 GMT | Updated 14/01/2017 05:12 GMT

Be SMART in 2016...

Hopefully you've had a great start to the New Year and the break has left you feeling energized and ready to tackle 2016 head on! That said, if you're struggling for motivation to kick-start your training regime, this will hopefully give you a much needed boost.

It's an all too familiar feeling; the excitement of Christmas has passed for another year, and the merriment of the New Year is starting to feel like a distant memory. The resolve to stick to your New Years' resolutions may also be starting to dwindle. But don't panic, you're not alone! This is a common feeling that can be explained by a cognitive shift as we transition from the relaxed state of the festive season back to the reality and pressures from our routines of work and school runs. Couple this with the guilt of a festive season of excess, and the desire to feel healthier and it's easy to see how we can all start to feel a little overwhelmed!

Hesitations aside, this is exactly the time when getting a structured training regime can be a great tool to get you back to running on an even keel. It's no surprise that research suggests that the quality of life of a regular exerciser is felt to be higher than those of sedentary or infrequent exercisers (1). Structured, personalized and regular exercise regimes have been shown to create an increase in mood, improve intellectual functioning, self-confidence, and positive reinforcement to other individuals (2). So, daunting as it may seem, getting back into training will not only have a positive impact on you, but on those around you as well!

The benefits of re-introducing exercise are clear, but still, making that first step can be difficult- especially on a cold winters night! To motivate yourself, we recommend setting yourself goals, giving you something to aim for. A well versed method is to set S.M.A.R.T goals - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound (3). Using these 5 buzzwords will help you to form a structured goal, tailored to you, with smaller milestones to achieve along your journey to the big goal.

For example, you want to run a half marathon at the end of the summer. Well, by completing shorter races such as a 5k or 10k race in the early and mid stages with their own time-based targets gives you lots of things to look forward to, and a chance to benchmark your progression en-route to your big goal. Similarly, you could set yourself a challenge like #30daysoffitness- which you may have seen on social media platforms. This challenges you to do some form of exercise every day for 30 days (and it doesn't have to be a lot, even going for a 20-minute walk counts). Whatever your goal, make sure that it is both realistic, and something you really want to achieve.

If it's been a while since you last worked out, increase your training load gradually to avoid over-reaching and injury. Follow our simple guidelines for a happy and healthy training regime in 2016;

1. Don't be scared to begin with light cardiovascular sessions. Beginning with 15-20 minute runs or cycles will put you in good stead for the longer runs a few weeks down the line

2. Resistance training in the gym should be structured correctly. Begin with a lighter load and complete 12-15 repetitions initially. As you progress, you may wish to decrease the number of repetitions and increase the load if your goal is to gain strength.

3. Ensure sure you set time aside to stretch, and ease your body back into training.

4. Manage your expectations. Remember, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it! Changing your lifestyle and breaking old habits is tough, so ensure your goals are realistic.

Enjoy Sweating!

(1) Lafarge, R.G et al., state of regular exercise and health-related quality of life. Preventive Medicine (1999) 349-360.

(2) Anthony, J. Psychologic Aspect of Exercise. Clinic in Sports Medicine (1991) 10(1);171-180

(3) Doran, G.T. There's a SMART way to write management goals and objectives. Management Review (1981) 70(11) 35-36