5 ways to start and sustain a fitness routine
You’ve heard it again and again: Regular exercise is an important part of maintaining wellness throughout your life.
While it can be difficult, here are some secrets for being more consistent about your fitness.
Be flexible about defining exercise: Exercise doesn’t have to mean a trip to the gym or getting hot and sweaty running or pumping weights. You can count a number of activities:
- Park at the edge of the lot and walk in.
- Take the stairs.
- Take a brisk walk around the park during a family picnic.
- Paddle your kayak around a favorite lake.
- Take a bike ride around the neighborhood.
- Walk during a casual work meeting.
- Mow the yard.
- Find activities you like and do them.
Have fun: Research suggests people who enjoy a certain exercise will do more of it. Reaching health goals may motivate someone to exercise, but you’re more likely to be active if you like your activity.
Set an exercise routine: People who are consistent with fitness activities have made a routine of exercising at the same time on the same days of the week. Habits tend to be hard to break. When your habit is good for you, it’s even easier to keep it going. When planning an exercise routine, be aware of the recommendations for how many times during the week you should exercise to give you the most benefit.
Use visual cues: Studies have found that people who use visual exercise cues are more likely to stick to their exercise plans. A visual cue would be something like putting your walking or running shoes out where you change after work. Seeing your shoes will spark a reminder. Or leave your earbuds on the dresser to remind you to grab them on your way out for a walk or run. The more prominent your cues are, the more likely you’ll see them and follow through.
Be flexible about planning: It’s essential to have a plan for fitting fitness activities into your life, and you can boost your chances of accomplishing your exercise goals if you write them down. But life can throw surprises your way. When that happens, don’t view your fitness activities as all or nothing. If you plan to workout for 30 minutes but something comes up that causes you to shortcut your time, just roll with it. Work out for 20 minutes. Being active for any period of time is better than zero.
Dr. Amy R. Ford practices Sports Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Aurora Medical Center in Summit, WI.
About the Author
Amy R. Ford, DO, practices Sports Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Aurora Medical Center in Summit, WI