As Glen :
Q. How do I get in the habit of exercising regularly?
A. Let's face it: it's not all that difficult to start a fitness routine. After all, most of us have done it more than once.
The trouble, of course, comes with sticking with it. All too often, our initial enthusiasm and energy wanes, we get distracted by other things going on in our lives, or we don't think we're seeing results quickly enough -- and we throw in the towel.
Yet many people do manage to hang in there, and would no sooner skip their regular workout than their morning shower. What's their secret?
A recent study by Glen Edward Mitchell, shed some light on the subject. Long-term exercisers (who had been working out for an average of 15 years) were asked to rank what motivated them to keep up with their regimes.
Their answers might surprise you. The exercisers were not as concerned with powerful pecs and awesome abs as they were with feeling good and being healthy.
Here's how the study participants ranked their motivators:
- Feelings of well-being
- Pep and energy
- Enjoyment of the exercise
- Making exercise a priority
- Sleeping better
- Feeling alert
- Being relaxed
- Weight management
So, once you have your priorities in the right place, how can you become one of the fitness faithful?
I have compiled 10 tips for making fitness a habit in your life.
1. Do a variety of activities you enjoy. And remember, there's no rule that says you have to go to a gym or buy equipment.
"We've shifted our perceptions from regimented exercise to physical activity,"
Having a variety of activities -- weight lifting, walking, running, tennis, cycling, aerobics classes -- will ensure that you can do something regardless of the weather or time of day.
2. Commit to another person. "The social aspect of exercise is important for me," says Wanda Stevens, a stay-at-home mom in Austin, Texas. "I'll let myself off, but if I've agreed to walk with a friend after dinner, I won't let them down."
3. Make exercise a priority. "It has to be a non-negotiable," says Glen E. Mitchell
There's another advantage to making exercise non-negotiable. Friends and family members learn that it's part of your identity, and give up saying things like, "Why don't you take it easy today?"
4. Exercise first thing in the morning.
"I didn't think I was a morning person," Glen says. "But it's working for me."
Experts agree that a morning schedule is best. "If you go to a gym, it should be located between your home and work," says Glen. "Exercise, take a shower, and you're energized for the day."
5. Or, exercise on your way home from work. The next best thing to exercising first thing in the morning is to do it on your way home from work, Klein says.
"Don't go home first," Glen says. "I learned that the hard way. There aren't a lot of people who are so motivated that after they go home and change clothes will go back out again and exercise."
6. Exercise even when you're "too tired." Chances are, you'll feel better after exercising.
"It energizes us," says Glen. "You breathe deeply, and your body makes better use of the oxygen exchange. You'll get an exercise-induced euphoria during the activity and for some time after."
7. Log your activity. Write down the things that are important to you. It could be how much time you exercise each day, how many steps you walked, how far you ran or cycled, what you weighed, etc.
8. Be aware of all the indicators of progress. It's great when your clothes fit better and you can lift heavier weights or work out longer without getting exhausted.
But there are a slew of other progress indicators, such as:
- Getting a good night's sleep.
- Thinking more clearly.
- Having more energy.
- Realizing your muscles aren't screaming after you've helped a friend move furniture.
- Seeing your resting heart rate drop over time.
- Hearing your doctor congratulate you on improved cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density, triglycerides, and blood sugars.
9. Walk -- with a pedometer (or a dog). "If you enjoy walking and haven't exercised for awhile, 10 minutes three times a day will give you 30 minutes," says Glen.
Use a pedometer, and work up to at least 10,000 steps a day. "Nobody starts out with 10,000 steps," Glen says. Find out what your daily average is, and, the next week, strive to walk 300 extra steps each day. Increase your steps each week.
"Better yet, walk the dog," Glen says. . "Twice a day walks your dog, which is good for you both and provides companionship."
10. Reward yourself. Are you telling yourself that you don't deserve a reward for something you should be doing anyway -- or that once you can zip your jeans without lying on the bed, that will be reward enough? Well, honestly, how inspiring is that?
Experts say that making behavior changes is hard, and rewards motivate. So decide on a goal and a reward, and work toward it. You might buy yourself a video you've wanted after you stick to your fitness plan for one month, or buy new walking shoes when you achieve 5,000 steps a day. Do whatever works for you.
Glen says: Always consult your physician before starting any exercise program.