How to Start and Stay on a Fitness Track
We all know that exercise is good for us. In addition to making us look and feel better, exercise can help prevent and treat conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, diabetes, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and stress.
But beginning and maintaining a successful fitness routine is a challenge. Since it’s easy to come up with excuses to avoid exercise, building your new healthy habit may require some creativity. Here are some tips:
- Start slowly. Since any exercise is better than no exercise, it doesn’t matter how small your first steps are. For example, you might start with two five-minute walks a week. Don’t worry about it – it’s a beginning.
- Read success stories. Inspire yourself by seeing how regular exercise truly changes lives.
- Set specific, realistic goals.
- Give yourself the time. Make “exercise” an entry on your daily to-do list.
- Don’t expect to be perfect. Try not to punish yourself for missing a day’s routine.
- Shop for toys. Find a fun new piece of exercise equipment, such as a heart-rate monitor or pedometer, to help inspire your workout.
- Get support. Family members, friends, and coworkers can be powerful allies in your quest for fitness and better health.
Establishing a Routine
Experts agree that you don’t have to spend hours at the gym to reap the rewards of exercise. You can exercise any time of day, and virtually anywhere – in front of the TV, at your desk in the middle of the day, or in your backyard.
Some easy-to-maintain workouts grow out of everyday tasks, such as bending, stretching, and lifting while doing housework and yard work. Other opportunities for healthy multitasking include:
- Take the stairs instead of an elevator.
- Walk to a coworker’s office instead of telephoning or e-mailing.
- Recruit an office friend to take a power walk at lunch.
- Stand up whenever you talk on the phone.
- Walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike while watching TV.
- Walk or ride a bike to the store instead of driving.
- Do simple stretches at your desk.
- Plan a vacation that includes physical activities, such as biking, hiking or swimming.
Keeping Fitness Fresh
Once you’ve settled into a regular exercise regimen, you’ll need to guard against boredom and burnout. You can break out of an exercise rut without breaking your fitness resolve. Try these ways to motivate yourself:
- Keep a diary. Fill it with inspiring thoughts and a clear record of your accomplishments.
- Find a partner or support group. Buddy systems work well because it’s harder to disappoint someone other than yourself.
- Listen to music to motivate your muscles.
- Spice up your routine. Vary your workout’s intensity; try a new sport; or use different exercise equipment.
- Reward yourself. Treat yourself to a bubble bath, dinner at your favorite restaurant, a new outfit or some other prize when you meet specific exercise goals.
- Take a break. If you need to scale back your routine, don’t let it dampen your determination. Do your best to get back on the exercise track quickly.