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Exercise Programs: How to Go the Distance

Running Shoes
Photo by TimWilson via Flickr

The first few months of the year are always super busy at the gym. The place is jam packed with new people.  There are waits for aerobic equipment that make amusement park lines seem fast in comparison and sometimes it seems that all the weight equipment you want to use is taken.

It happens every year.  I see people walk in with their brand new gym bags and wearing their fresh, out of the box running shoes.  They’re motivated and determined that this year will be the one that they are going to get in shape.  But, well before summer comes around, the gym is back to its normal level of gym goers.  Despite people’s best intentions, most people who start a new exercise program stop doing it within three to six months.

Every year I ask myself, where did all those people go?  Why did they give up on their exercise programs?

Sticking to an exercise program
Well, frequently it’s because people don’t set up an exercise plan that is right for them.  They either set unrealistic goals, pick an exercise that they don’t enjoy or push themselves too hard at the beginning.  Here are eight tips to consider when starting an exercise program that will help you stick it out the whole year:

  1. Make your goals realistic and achievable: It is important to set goals that you can achieve.  If you set goals that are impossible to achieve, you will become frustrated and disheartened and you will stop exercising entirely.  So, don’t expect that you will be in peak shape and at your ideal weight in under a month.  Instead, set a reasonable goal, such as deciding that you will walk or jog for 15-20 minutes, 3 times a week.
  2. Define your goals: When goals are vague, you are more likely to quit.  Having a goal that you are going to exercise more, is not specific enough and will not keep you motivated for long.  You need a defined goal, so that you can easily know if you are meeting it.  For example, say that you will go swimming for 30 minutes, 3 times a week.
  3. Keep track of your achievements: After each workout, record what you did during your workout (distance, time, heart rate, etc.).  You can also record your weight and measurements at the end of the week.  When you see progress, you will be motivated to continue.
  4. Work your way up: If you have not been working out regularly, start out slowly and work your way up.  If you demand too much from yourself all at once, you might not stick to your program.  Worse yet, you could injure yourself, setting back your exercise program.  Often, working out for 10-15 minutes, 3 times a week at a moderate intensity, rather than 60 minutes 4-5 times a week is easier to stick to at first.  Don’t push your body to the limits, right away.  That will make you loathe working out.  You should feel good after your workout, not like you were beaten to within an inch of your life. It is important to enjoy the process as much as possible because then you will be more likely to continue.  As you progress, you can increase the length, frequency and intensity of your workouts.
  5. Find a place to workout nearby: People often make excuses to avoid working out or honestly have difficulty finding the time.  If you workout nearby, that’s one less issue/excuse to worry about.
  6. Dedicate a convenient time slot to working out: Working out should be part of your weekly activities.  So, make sure that you make a slot for exercising.  If you don’t, you are more likely not to do it.
  7. Find a workout partner: Research has shown that people who have a workout partner are more likely to stick with an exercise program.  A workout partner will help keep you motivated because you know that they are waiting for you and counting on you to show up.
  8. Add variety to your workouts: If you are the type of person that gets bored easily, add a little variety to your workouts.  Try different activities.  Go running one day, then maybe swimming, cycling or hiking another day.  There are so many activities out there that you can pick that will bring you fitness benefits.  So, find a few physical activities that you enjoy doing and switch between them.

With some planning ahead, you will be successful in achieving your exercise goals.  You just need to set realistic goals, dedicate time to exercising, add variety to your exercise routine and start out slowly and work your way up.  That will set you up for a fun, successful exercise routine that will last throughout the year!

Comments (4)

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  1. Mark says:

    So many people lose motivation as the year moves along! Awesome tips Talli!

  2. Rosy says:

    I totally agree variety is key. If I don’t change it up for myself, I can quickly lose interest. Thanks Talli, cool post!

  3. Maria Isabel says:

    Yes, I like a variety of exercises. Good ideas.

  4. Body Guy says:

    bodybuilding is my religion =)

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