Keeping Motivated to Exercise
How can I avoid falling off my exercise routine?
Sticking with your exercise program regularly and consistently is your best bet for overall health. While there's no specific danger in starting and stopping over and over again, it's important to set personal goals and identify what motivates you to exercise. Even if there's been a long lapse in your sessions, you should do your best to get back to regular exercise as soon as you can.
For some, it's disease prevention. If a close family member has been affected by heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, or cancer, that may be what motivates you to stay healthy and avoid the same path. Regular exercise reduces your risk of developing these and other diseases and will help you maintain a healthy body weight.
For others, living longer could be a motivator. Research has shown that exercise may extend the years of your life. It can greatly enhance your quality of living, too, by making regular day-to-day physical activities such as climbing stairs, carrying groceries, and vacuuming easier.
How you start an exercise program may greatly determine whether you stick with it. If you have started programs in the past only to quit a month later, pay careful attention to the following tips:
- Set realistic goals. Don't try to run a marathon or lose 10 pounds in a month.
- Begin slowly and try a number of different exercises. Limit the length of each session.
- Use visualization daily: Picture yourself enjoying your workout and then feeling great when you've finished.
- Schedule exercise and make it a top priority in your life. Write it down on your calendar and keep a daily exercise log.
- Identify one exercise that you enjoy doing on most days. If you're traveling, maintain some kind of routine. Find a fitness center at the hotel, go for a swim, or take a long walk. You can also try strengthening exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, calf raises, and lunges.
- Don't feel guilty when you miss a session or two. Negative feelings will only hinder your motivation. Getting back on track will make you feel better.
- If boredom is hindering your routine, try doing new exercises, pick a new sport, or recruit an exercise partner. The key is finding something you like and sticking with it.
- Distractions -- such as reading, listening to music, or watching television while you work out -- can also help keep you motivated. Try exercising at a different time of day, or break up a workout schedule to include aerobic exercise in the morning and strength training at night.
Other tips include:
- Buying an exercise tape that you find entertaining.
- Scheduling several sessions with a personal trainer.
- Joining an exercise class that has a lively instructor.