You’ve decided to start an exercise program and that’s great. Unfortunately, more than half of all people who begin an exercise regimen quit within the first six months. It’s not easy to develop a successful exercise program that you will stick with for the rest of your life. However, there are steps we can take to boost our enthusiasm and to facilitate long-term program adherence. Specifically, these 15 behaviors will help you stick with an exercise program for years to come:
1. Set realistic goals. Make sure your expectations regarding your exercise program are reasonable.
2. Write your goals and post them in a visible area. This provides you with a constant reminder of why you are exercising.
3. Share your goals with others. This allows your friends and family members to encourage you.
4. Consistently monitor your progress. Steady improvement is a tremendous motivator.
5. Choose a convenient time and place for your workouts. You are much more likely to stick with your exercise program if it is convenient for you.
6. Start easy and slowly build your effort. Simply stated, don’t overdo it!
7. Keep your exercise sessions brief. 30 minutes is enough in most instances.
8. Choose a variety of exercises and activities to avoid boredom. Boredom is a common reason for quitting an exercise program.
9. Combine family and exercise time. For example, walking, hiking, skating and bike riding all offer an opportunity to combine exercise with family time.
10. Learn how to do your exercises safely. Injury and soreness are common reasons for quitting an exercise program.
11. Work out at the same time every day. This will allow you to get in the habit of exercising at a particular time of day.
12. Keep an exercise journal. This provides you with a picture of your progress, which can be a great motivator.
13. Schedule activities around your exercise sessions. Once you have identified the days and times you will exercise each week, schedule your other activities around these times. This demonstrates the importance of your exercise program in your life.
14. Don’t stress out if you miss a workout. Missing an occasional workout is not a problem. In fact, it’s to be expected. Just get back to work the next day.
15. Make sure you have fun. No one sticks with exercise unless they enjoy it. You can make sure you have fun by selecting activities you really enjoy and by working out with others.