Starting an Exercise Habit

Starting an Exercise Habit

You’ve decided to get fit and start exercising. Congratulations! First, you’ll probably hit the mall and purchase gobs of fun workout gear. Next, you might consider joining a gym or purchasing exercise equipment. Then, the real work starts. Time to actually start exercising. Don’t freak out. You can do this. Here’s what you need to know to make exercise a habit.

Starting an Exercise HabitFirst, see a doctor. You’ll probably have to undergo a full physical exam. This is good, as it allows you to find out your body’s strengths and weaknesses. Your doctor will probably ask you about what level of fitness you desire. Think about this ahead of time to maximize your time with the good doctor. Unsure? Shoot for 30-60 minutes of exercise at least four times a week. If that’s unrealistic, just say so. Your doc wants you succeed rather than fail at this venture. Discuss what’s reasonable, and develop a realistic plan that allows you to stick with the program. Anything’s better than nothing, especially as far as exercise is concerned. Don’t be ashamed if you’re not ready to dive in to a full-time schedule.

Slow and steady wins the race. If you haven’t been active for a long period of time, you can’t expect to walk into the gym and take over the place. You might not, in fact, even be ready to join a gym yet. If this is true, consider incorporating exercise into your day. Believe it or not, there are many ways to exercise at work. If you don’t live too far from the office, consider biking or walking to work. Once you’re there, shun the elevator and opt for the stairs. Coffee or lunch breaks are excellent opportunities for quick walks. Got a question for a coworker? Don’t reach for the phone. Take a quick jaunt down the hall and inquire in person. Make sure your lunch selections involve low-fat, high protein meals. You’ll lose weight and build energy. So much for mid-day fatigue!

You’ve established an exercise routine? How to maintain it? Select activities that you find engaging. If cycling isn’t your thing, it’s unlikely you’ll be back in that spin class next month. Enjoy up-tempo music and high-energy movements. Sign up for cardio class. Those who prefer solitary workouts might enjoy firing up an iPod and hitting the treadmill, followed by circuit training with weights.

Maintain a variety of workout options, and you’ll be less likely to find yourself bored. Do cardio training one day. This could involve aerobics, cycling or tennis. Next workout, focus on strength training. Work with weights. Perhaps the next day you’ll go for a nice, long walk. The sky’s the limit!

Studies show that those who exercise with a partner are more likely to stick with the program. If you’re workout partner-friendly, find one and engage in tandem workouts. Can’t seem to find a partner? Check the bulletin board at local gyms or community centers.

Finally, don’t give up. It can take a while for exercise benefits to fully reveal themselves. A good way to stay engaged and motivated? Keep a fitness journal. Log all your activities, and record your weight daily. This will allow you to monitor your progress.

Kudos to you for making fitness a part of your life. This is a habit you definitely won’t want to break.

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